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Full text of "American patriotism: speeches, letters, and other papers which illustrate the foundation, the development, the preservation of the United States of America"

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United States of America. 








V s - 


TTIE design of this compilation is to present a sheaf of ripened grain 
grown on American soi); to include the noblest specimens of the 
learning, and eloquence, and wisdom, and patriotism of those who, by 
the judgment of their own time and the concurrent verdict of posterity 
have been recognized as the foremost men and the clearest thinkers in 
the growing state. Such sheaves have been garnered before. But the 
later events, hardly yet rounded into completeness, furnish to the 
reaper a broader field, upturned by the tillage of war, whence has 
sprung a new harvest of glorious and abounding grain not less precious 
than that oft reaped before. This work has naturally classified itself 
into three parts: the first including papers which illustrate the formative 
period of the nation s history culminating in the Revolution; the 
second, those produced in a time, not at all of inaction, but of vigor 
ous and healthful yet of peaceful development; the third, those poured 
forth in hot and tumultuous haste, blazing with patriotic fire, when the 
Rebellion was earthquake, and tempest, and pestilence in one. Fol 
lowing the papers in the chronological order of their arrangement, one 
may trace in the first period the progress of public thought; the hope 
and wish that wrongs might be righted within the pale- of the colonial 
system; doubts of success ripening into conviction that separation was 
imperative; lofty purpose culminating in the Declaration of Indepen 
dence; the period closing with the glorious sunset of the great com 
mander. Guided by no such sequence of ideas and events in the 
second period, we simply include several of its historic papers, match 
less in eloquence and wisdom. In the third period, recognizing the 
fact that the real cause of strife was the cancer of Human Slavery, we 
have arranged, also in the order of time, papers which illustrate the 
growth of public opinion; the enlightenment of the public conscience 



the courage of those who protested against wrong, in the teeth of bitter 
denunciation; the grand uprising of the nation, when War, full pano 
plied, sprang into the arena, and the sword was flung into the oscillating 
scales; the prudent, faithful, godlike words of the people s President; 
the voice that cried, " Let the oppressed go free"; the agony that rent 
the land when the assassin s bullet pierced at once the nation s head 
and the people s heart; the requiems for the martyred President; and 
finally, the philosophic reviews of the nation s life, completing the full 
-measure of a century s existence. Beginning, then, with the first 
papers of this volume, and reading thoughtfully and carefully, in the 
order given, with such collaterals as time and circumstances may offer, 
the reader as he closes the book will discover that he has perused an 
Epitome of the first century of American History. And the most im 
pressive lesson of these pages, having its germs in the very earliest, 
with illustrations and enforcements in every other, formulated an 
hundred times, in terms the most logical, the most authoritative, the 
most eloquent, the most impassioned; emphasized by the thunder of 
cannon, and sanctified by the blood of heroes and martyrs is that 
these United States of America, were, and are, and must remain, not 
an aggregate of provinces, but One People a Nation. 

S. H. P. 
NEW YORK, June i, iSSo. 




Protest of Boston against Taxation. 


The Grievances of the American Colonies. 


Causes of American Discontent. 


Appeal to the Sons of Liberty. 


Letters from " Farmer." Letter XII. 


Letter from "Candidus." 

SAMUEL ADAMS.. 1771 29 

Report on the Rights of Colonists. 


Oration at Boston. 


Essay on the Constitutional Power of Great Britain. 


Thoughts on Standing Armies. 


Oration on the Boston Massacre. 


Vindication of the Colonies. 


Speech for American Colonies. 

JOHN WILKES 1775 97 


Speech ^n a Motion for Removing Troops from Boston. 


Speech to the Delegates of Virginia. 


Oration on the Re-interment of Warren. 


Occupation of Dorchester Heights, 1776. 


The Declaration of Independence. 


Predictions Concerning the 4th of July. 

JOHN ADAMS . 1776 124 

Patriotism a Virtue. 


Circular Letter to the Governors. 


Farewell to the Army. 


Resignation of Commission. 


The Defects of the Confederation. 


Eulogy on Adams and Jefferson. 



Inaugural Address. 


Farewell Address. 


On the Embargo. 


Maritime Protection. 


Laying the Corner Stone of the Bunker Hill Monument. 



Reply to Hayne. 


Second Centennial of Boston. 


Proclamation against Nullification. 




The Jubilee of the Constitution. 

JOHN QUINCY ADAMS... 1839 311 

Completion of Bunker Hill Monument. 


V--The True Grandeur of Nations. 


Eulogy on Webster. 

RUFUS CHOATE 18^3 395 


The Duty of the Free States. 


The Lessons of Independence Day. 


The Consequences of Secession. 

HENRY CLAY , 1850 483 

Protest against Slavery in Nebraska and Kansas. 


Debate with Douglas. , 


Burial of John Brown. 


At Independence Hall. 


First Inaugural Address. 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN .* 1861 508 


Union Mass Meeting. 


Address at Amherst. 


The Rebellion ; Its Origin and Mainspring. 


The War for the Union. 


Emancipation Proclamation. 


Emancipation Immediate, not Gradual. 


National Cemetery at Gettysburg. 


Speech at Gettysburg. 


The Treason of Slavery. 

CARL SCHURZ 1864 615 

Second Inaugural Address. 


The Martyr President. 


The Death of Lincoln. 


The Burial of Lincoln. 


The Double Anniversary ; 76 and 63. 


Centennial Oration. 




Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State f 

Sail on, O UNION, strong and great t 

Humanity, -with all its fears, 

With all the hopes of future yearj. 
Is hanging breathless on thy fate ! 

We know what Master laid thy keel, 

What Workmen wrought thy ribs of steel* 

Who made each mast, and sail, and rope^ 

What anvils rang, what hammers beat. 
In what a forge and what a heat 

Were shaped the anchors of thy hope t 
Fear not each sudden sound and shock, 
Tis of the wave and not the rock* 
T is but the flapping of the sail, 
And not a rent made by the gale f 
In spite of rock and tempest s roar, 
In spite of false lights on the shore, 
Sail on, nor fear to breast the sea / 
Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee, 
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears, 
Our faith triumphant o^er our fears, 
Are all with thee,are all with thee ! 




Boston, May 24, 1764. 

To Royal Tyler, Jatncs Otis, Thomas dishing, and Oxenbridgc 

7^/Kicher, Esquires: 

GENTLEMEN Your being chosen by the freeholders and inhabitants 
of the Town of Boston to represent them in the General Assembly 
the ensuing year, affords you the strongest testimony of that confi 
dence which they place in your integrity and capacity. By this choice 
they have delegated to you the power of acting in their public concerns 
in general as your own prudence shall direct you, always reserving to 
themselves the constitutional right of expressing their mind, and giv 
ing you such instructions upon particular matters as they at any time 
shall judge proper. 

We therefore, your constituents, take this opportunity to declare 
our just expectations from you, that you will constantly use your 
power and influence in maintaining the valuable rights and privileges 
of the province, of which this town is so great a part, as well those 
rights which are derived to us by the royal charter, as those which 
being prior to and independent of it, we hold essentially as free-born 
subjects of Great Britain. 

That you will endeavor, as far as you shall be able, to preserve 
that independence in the House of Representatives which charac 
terizes a free people, and the want of which may in a great measure 
prevent the happy efforts of a free government ; cultivating as you 
shall have opportunity that harmony and union there which is ever 
desirable to good men, which is founded on principles of virtue and pub 
lic spirit, and guarding against any undue weight which may tend to 
disadjust that critical balance upon which our happy constitution and 
the blessings of it do depend. And for this purpose we particularly 
recommend it to you to use your endeavors to have a law passed, 
whereby the scats of such gentlemen as shall accept of por .s of 


profit from the Crown or the Governor, while they are members of 
the House, shall be vacated agreeably to an act of the British Parlia 
ment, till their constituents shall have the opportunity of re-electing 
them, if they please, or of returning others in their room. 

Being members of the legislative body, you will have a special re 
gard to thejnqrals of this people, which are the basis of public happi 
ness, and erideaj^i" to-h^ve such laws made, if any are still wanting, 
as shall be be st adapted to secure them ; and we particularly desire you 
car.efuHy to. look into the iat/s of excise, that if the virtue of the peo- 
"pie is H<4arlgered by tVe multiplicity of oaths therein enjoined, or their 
trade arid business" is* unreasonably impeded or embarrassed thereby, 
the grievance may be redressed. 

As the preservation of morals, as well as of property and right, so 
much depends upon the impartial distribution of justice, agreeable to 
good and wholesome law ; and as the judges of the land do depend 
upon the free grants of the General Assembly for support, it is in 
cumbent upon you at all times to give your voice for their honorable 
maintenance, so long as they, having in their minds an indifference 
to all other affairs, shall devote themselves wholly to the duties of 
their own department and the farther study of the law, by which their 
customs, precedents, proceedings and determinations are adjusted and 

You will remember that this province hath been at a very great 
expense in carrying on the war, and that it still lies under a very 
grievous burden of debt ; you will therefore use your utmost endeavor 
to promote public frugality as one means to lessen the public debt. 

You will join in any proposals which may be made for the better 
cultivating the lands, and improving the husbandry of the province; 
and as you represent a town which lives by its trade, we expect in a 
very particular manner, though you make it the object of your atten 
tion to support our commerce in all its just rights, to vindicate it from 
all unreasonable impositions and promote its prosperity. Our trade 
has for a long time labored under great discouragements, and it is 
with the deepest concern that we see such farther difficulties coming 
upon it as will reduce it to the lowest ebb, if not totally obstruct and 
ruin it. We cannot help expressing our surprise that when so early 
notice was given by the agent of the intentions of the Ministry to 
burden us with new taxes, so little regard was had to this most inter 
esting matter, that the Court was not even called together to consult 
about it till the latter end of the year ; the consequence of which was, 
that instructions could not be sent to the agent, though solicited by 
him, till the evil had gone beyond an easy remedy. 

There is now no room for farther delay ; we therefore expect that 
you v. ill use your earliest endeavors in the General Assembly that 
such methods may be taken as will effectually prevent these proceed 
ing arjainst us. By a proper representatio n we apprehend it may 



easily be made to appear that such severities will prove detrimental to 
Great Britain itself ; upon which account we have reason to hope that 
an application, even for a repeal of the act, should it be already 
passed, will be successful. It is the trade of the colonies that renders 
them beneficial to the mother country ; our trade as it is now, and 
always has been conducted, centres in Great Britain, and, in return for 
her manufactures, affords her more ready cash beyond any compari 
son than can possibly be expected by the most sanguinary promotor 
of these extraordinary methods. We are, in short, ultimately yield 
ing large supplies to the revenues of the mother country, while we are 
laboring for a very moderate subsistence for ourselves. But if our 
trade is to be curtailed in its most profitable branches, and burdens 
beyond all possible bearing laid upon that which is suffered to remain, 
we shall be so far from being able to take off the manufactures of 
Great Britain, though it will be scarce possible for us to earn our 

But what still heightens our apprehensions is, that these unex 
pected proceedings may be preparatory to new taxations upon us; for 
if our trade may be taxed, why not our lands ? Why not the produce 
of our lands and everything we possess or make use of? This we 
apprehend annihilates our charter right to govern and tax ourselves. 
It strikes at our British privileges, which, as we have never forfeited 
them, we hold in common with our fellow subjects who are natives of 
Britain. If taxes are laid upon us in any shape without our having a 
legal representation where they are laid, are we not reduced from the 
character of free subjects to the miserable state of tributary slaves ? 

We therefore earnestly recommend it to you to use your utmost en 
deavors to obtain in the General Assembly all necessary instruction 
and advice to our agent at this most critical juncture ; that while he 
is setting forth the unshaken loyalty of this province and this town 
its unrivaled exertion in supporting his Majesty s government and 
rights in this part of his dominions its acknowledged dependence upon 
and subordination to Great Britain, and the ready submission of its 
merchants to all just and necessary regulations of trade, he may be 
able in the most humble and pressing manner to remonstrate for us 
all those rights and privileges which justly belong to us either by 
charter or birth. 

As his Majesty s other Northern American colonies are embarked with 
i;s in this most important bottom, we farther desire you to use your 
endeavors that their weight may be added to that of this province, that 
by the united application of all who are aggrieved, all may happily 
obtain redress. 



Providence, July 30, 1764. 

Liberty is the greatest blessing that men enjoy, and slavery the 
greatest curse that human nature is capable of. Hence it is a matter 
of the utmost importance to men which of the two shall be their por 
tion. Absolute liberty, is, perhaps, incompatible with any kind of 
government. The safety resulting from society, and the advantages 
of just and equal laws, hath caused men to forego some part of their 
natural liberty, and submit to government. This appears to be the 
most rational account of its beginning, although, it must be confessed, 
mankind have by no means been agreed about it ; some have found 
its origin in the divine appointment ; others have thought it took its 
rise from power ; enthusiasts have dreamed that dominion was 
founded in grace. Leaving these points to be settled by the descend 
ants of Filmer, Cromwell, and Venner, we shall consider the British 
(Constitution, as it at present stands, on revolution principles ; and 
from thence endeavor to find the measure of the magistrates power 
and the people s obedience. 

This glorious Constitution, the best that ever existed among men, 
will be confessed by all to be founded on compact, and established by 
consent of the people. By this most beneficent compact, British sub 
jects are to be governed only agreeably to laws to which themselves 
have in some way consented, and are not to be compelled to part 
with their property but as it is called for by the authority of such 
laws. The former is truly liberty ; the latter is to be really pos 
sessed of property, and to have something that may be called one s own. 

On the contrary, those who are governed at the will of another, or 
others, and whose property may be taken from them by taxes, or 
otherwise, without their own consent, or against their will, are in a 
miserable condition of slavery; "for (says Algernon Sidney, in his 
discourse on government), liberty solely consists in the independency 
upon the will of another ; and by name of slave we understand a man 
who can neither dispose of his person or goods, and enjoys all at the 
will of his master." These things premised, whether the British 
American colonies on the cominent are justly entitled to like privi 
leges and freedoms as their fellow-subjects in Great Britain are, is a 
point worthy mature examination. In discussing this question we 
?hall make the colonies of New England, with whose rights we are 
best acquainted, the rule of our reasoning ; not in the least doubting 
all the others are justly entitled to like rights with them. 


New England was first planted by adventurers, who left England, 
their native country, by permission of King Charles the First, and at 
their own expense transported themselves to America, and, with great 
risk and difficulty, settled among the savages, and, in a very surprising 
manner, formed new colonies in the wilderness. Before their de 
parture the terms of their freedom, and the relation they should stand 
in to the mother country, were fully settled. They were to remain 
subject to the King, and dependant on the kingdom of Great Britain. 
In return they were to receive protection, and enjoy all the rights and 
privileges of free-born Englishmen. This is abundantly proved by 
the charter given to the Massachusetts colony, while they were still 
in England, and which they received and brought over with them, as 
an authentic evidence of the condition they removed upon. The col 
onies of Connecticut and Rhode Island, also, afterwards obtained 
charters from the Crown granting like ample privileges. By all these 
charters it is in the most express and solemn manner granted that 
these adventurers, and their children after them forever, should have 
and enjoy all the freedom and liberty that the subjects in England 
enjoy. That they might make laws for their government, suitable to 
their circumstances, not repugnant to, but as near as might be agree 
able to, the laws of England ; that they might purchase lands, acquire 
goods, and use trade for their advantage, and have an absolute prop 
erty in whatever they justly acquired. This, with many other gracious 
privileges, were granted them by several kings ; and they were to pay, 
as an acknowledgment to the Crown, only one-fifth of the ore of gold 
and silver that should at any time be found in the State colonies ; in 
lieu of a full satisfaction for all dues and demands of the Crown and 
kingdom of England upon them. 

There is not anything new or extraordinary in these rights granted 
to the British colonies. The colonies from all countries at all times 
have enjoyed equal freedom with the mother state. Indeed, there 
would be found very few people in the world willing to leave their 
native country, and go through the fatigue and hardship of planting 
in a new, uncultivated one, for the sake of losing their freedom. 
They who settle new countries must be poor, and in course, ought to 
be free. Advantages, pecuniary and agreeable, are not on the side 
of the emigrants ; and surely they must have something in their 

To illustrate this, permit us to examine what hath generally been 
the condition of the colonies with respect to their freedom. We will 
begin with ttu,se who went out from the ancient Commonwealth of 
Greece, which are the first, perhaps, we have any good account of. 
Thucydides, that grave and judicious historian, says of them "they 
were not sent out to be slaves, but to be the equals of those who re 
mained behind ;" and again, the Corinthians gave public notice "that 
the new colony was going to Epidamus, into which all that should 


enter should have equal and like privileges with those who stayed at 

This was uniformly the condition of the Grecian colonies; they 
went out and settled new countries; they took such forms of govern 
ment as themselves chose, though it generally nearly resembled that 
of the mother state, whether democratical or orligarchical. Tis true 
they were fond to acknowledge their original, and always confessed 
themselves under obligation to pay a kind of honorary respect to, and 
shvw a filial dependance on the commonwealth from whence it sprung. 
Thucidides again tells us that the Corinthians complained of the 
Corcyrans "from whom, though a colony of their own, they had 
received some contemptuous treatment ; for they neither paid them 
the usual honor on their public solemnities, nor began with the Cor 
inthians in the distribution of the sacrifice which is always done by 
other colonies." From hence it is plain what kind of dependance the 
Greek colonies were in, and what sort of acknowledgment they owed 
to the mother state. 

If we pass from the Grecian to the Roman colonies we shall find 
them not less free ; but this difference may be observed between them, 
that the Roman colonies did not, like the Grecian, become separate 
states, governed by different laws, but always remained a part of the 
mother state ; all that were free of the colonies were always free of 
Rome. And Grotins gives us an opinion of the Roman King concern 
ing the freedom of the colonies. King Tullus says, "for our part, 
we look upon it to be neither truth nor justice that the mother cities 
ought of necessity to rule over their colonies." 

When we come down to the latter ages of the world, and consider 
the colonies planted in the three last centuries in America from several 
kingdoms in Europe, we shall find them, says Puffcndorf, very differ 
ent from the ancient colonies, and he gives us an instance in those of 
the Spaniards. Although it be confessed they fall greatly short of 
enjoying equal freedom with the ancient Greek and Roman ones, yet 
it will be truly said they enjoy equal freedom Avith their countrymen 
in Spain ; but as they are all in the government of an absolute 
monarch they have no reason to complain that one enjoys the liberty 
the other is deprived of. The French colonies will be found nearly in 
the same condition, and for the same reason, because their fellow- 
subjects of France have always lost their liberty. And the question 
is whether all colonies, as compared with one another, enjoy equal 
liberty, or whether all enjoy as much freedom as the inhabitants of 
the mother state ; and this will hardly be denied in the case of the 
Spanish, French, and other modern foreign colonies. 

By this it fully appears that colonies in general, both ancient and 
modern, have always enjoyed as much freedom as the mother state 
from which they went out ; and will any one suppose the British 
colonies of America are an exception to this general rule? Colonies 


that came from a kingdom, renowned for liberty; from the constitution 
founded on compact, from the people of all the sons of men the most 
tenacious of freedom ; who left the delights of their native country, 
parted from their homes and all their conveniences, searched out and 
subdued a foreign country, with the most amazing travail and forti 
tude, to the infinite advantage and emolument of the mother state ; 
that removed on a firm reliance of the solemn compact and real 
promise and grant that they and their successors should be free, should 
be partakers in all the privileges and advantages of the then English, 
now English constitution. 

If it were possible a doubt could yet remain in the most unbelieving 
mind that these British colonies are not every way justly and fully 
entitled to equal liberty and freedom with their fellow-subjects in 
Europe, we might show that the Parliament of Great Britain have 
always understood their rights in the same light. 

By an act passed in the thirteenth year of the reign of His Majesty, 
King George the Second, entitled " An Act for naturalizing Foreign 
Protestants, etc.," and by another act passed in the same reign, for 
nearly the same purposes, by both which it is enacted and ordained, 
" That all foreign Protestants who had inhabited, and resided for the 
space of seven years, or more, in His Majesty s colonies in America," 
might, on the conditions therein mentioned, be naturalized, and there 
upon should be "deemed, adjudged, and taken to be His Majesty s 
natural born subjects of the kingdom of Great Britain, to all intents, 
constructions, and purposes, as if they and every one of them had 
been, or were born within the same." No reasonable man will here 
suppose that Parliament intended, in those acts, to put foreigners who 
had been in the colonies only seven years, in a better condition than 
than those who had been born in them, or had removed from Britain 
thither, but only to put these foreigners on an equality with them ; 
and to do this, they are obliged to give them all the rights of natural- 
born subjects of Great Britain. 

From what has been shown it will appear beyond a doubt that the 
British subjects in America have equal rights with those in Britain ; 
that they do not hold those rights and privileges granted them, but 
possess them as inherent and indefeasible. 

And the British legislative and executive powers have considered 
the colonies as possessed of these rights, and have always, heretofore, 
in the most tender and parental manner, treated them as their depend 
ant (though free) condition required. The protection promised on the 
part of the Crown, which with cheerfulness and gratitude we acknowl 
edge, hath at all times been given to the colonies. The dependance 
of the colonies to Great Britain hath been fully testified by a constant 
and ready obedience to all the commands of his present Majesty, and 
royal predecessors ; both men and money having been raised in them 
at all times when called for, with as much alacrity and in as large pro- 


portion as hath been done in Great Britain, the ability of each con 
sidered. It must also be confessed with thankfulness, that the first 
adventurers and their successors, for one hundred and thirty years, 
have fully enjoyed all the freedom and immunities promised on their 
removal from England. But here the scene seems to be unhappily 
changing. The British ministry, whether induced by jealousy of the 
colonies, by false information, or by some alteration in the system of 
political government, we have no information ; whatever hath been 
the motive, this we are sure of, the Parliament passed an act, limiting, 
restricting, and burdening the trade of these colonies much more than 
had ever been done before, as also for greatly enlarging the power 
and jurisdiction of the courts of admiralty in the colonies, and likewise 
passed another act establishing certain stamp duties. These acts 
have occasioned great uneasiness among the British subjects on the 
continent of America. How much reason there is for it, we will en 
deavor in the most modest and plain manner we can, to lay before 
the public. 

In the first place, let it be considered that although each of the colo 
nies hath a legislature within itself, to take care of its interests and 
provide for its peace and internal government, yet there are many 
things of a more general nature, quite out of the reach of these particu 
lar legislatures which it is necessary should be regulated, ordered, and 
governed. One of this kind is the commerce of the whole British em 
pire, taken collectively, and that of each kingdom and colony in it as 
it makes a part of that whole indeed, everything that concerns the 
proper interest and fit government of the whole commonwealth, of 
keeping the peace, and subordination of all the parts towards the whole 
and one among another, must be considered in this light. Amongst 
these general concerns, perhaps money and paper credit, these grand 
instruments of all commerce, will be found also to have a place. 
These, with all other matters of a general nature, it is absolutely neces 
sary should have a general power to direct them ; some supreme and 
overruling authority with power to make laws and form regulations 
for the good of all, and to compel their execution and observance. It 
being necessary some such general power should exist somewhere, 
every man of the least knowledge of the British constitution, will natu 
rally be led to look for and find it in the Parliament of Great Britain ; 
that grand and august legislative body must from the nature of its 
authority and the necessity of the thing be justly vested with this 
power. Hence it becomes the indispensable duty of every good and 
loyal subject cheerfully to obey and patiently submit to all the acts, 
laws, orders, and regulations that may be made and passed by Parlia 
ment for directing and governing all these general matters. 

Here it may be urged by many, and indeed with great appearance 
of reason, that the equity, justice, and beneficence of the British Con 
stitution will require that the separate kingdoms and distinct colonies. 


who are to obey and be governed by these general laws and regula 
tions, ought to be represented in some way or other in Parliament, at 
least while these general maiters are under consideration. Whether 
the colonies will ever be admitted to have representatives in Parlia 
ment whether it be consistent with their distant and dependant 
state ; whether, if it were admitted, it would be to their advantage 
are questions we will pass by, and observe that these colonies 
ought, in justice, and for the evident good of the commonwealth, to 
have notice of every new measure about to be pursued, and new act 
about to be passed, by which their rights, liberties, and interests may 
be affected ; they ought to have such notice, that they may appear or 
be heard by their agents, by counsel, or written representation, or by 
some other equitable and effectual way. 

The colonies ate at so great a distance from England that the mem 
bers of Parliament can generally have but little knowledge of their 
business, connections, and interests, but what is gained frpm the peo 
ple who have been there ; the most of those have so slight a knowledge 
themselves that the informations they can give are very little to be 
depended upon, though they may pretend to determine with confidence 
on matters far above their reach. All such informations are too un 
certain to be depended on in the transacting business of so much con 
sequence, and in which the interests of two millions of free people are 
so deeply concerned. There is no kind of inconvenience or mischief 
can arise from the colonies having such notice, and being heard in the 
manner above mentioned ; but on the contrary, very great mischiefs 
have already happened to the colonies, and always must be expected, 
if they are not heard before things of such importance are determined 
concerning them. 

Had the colonies been fully heard before the last act had been passed, 
no reasonable man can suppose it ever would .have passed at all, in 
the manner it now stands. For what good reason can possibly be 
given for making a law to cramp the trade and interest of many of the 
colonies, and at the same time lessen in a prodigious manner the con 
sumption of the British manufactures in them ? These are certainly 
the effects this act must produce. The duty of three pence per gallon 
on foreign molasses is well-known to every man in the least acquaint 
ed with it to be much higher than that article can possibly bear, and 
therefore must operate as an absolute prohibition. This will put a 
total stop to the exportation of lumber, horses, flour, and fish to the 
French and Dutch sugar-colonies ; and if any one supposes we may 
find a sufficient sale for these articles in the English West Indies, he 
verifies what was just now observed, that he wants true information. 
Putting an end to the importation of foreign molasses at the same 
time puts an end to all the costly distilleries in these colonies and to 
the rum trade with the coast of Africa, and throws it into the hands of 
the French? With the loss of the foreign molasses trade the cod-fish- 


ing in America must also be lost and thrown also into the hands of the 
French. That this is the real state of the whole business is not mere 
fancy ; neither this nor any part of it is an exaggeration, but a sober 
and most melancholy truth. 

View this duty of three pence per gallon on foreign molasses, not in 
the light of a prohibition, but supposing the trade to continue and the 
duty to be paid. Heretofore hath been imported into the colony of 
Rhode Island only about one million, two hundred and fifty thousand 
gallons annually ; the duty on this quantity is ,14,375 sterling, to be 
paid yearly by this little colony ; a larger sum than was ever in it at 
any one time. This money is to be sent away, and never to return ; 
yet the payment is to be repeated every year. Can this possibly be 
clone ? Can a new colony, compelled by necessity to purchase all its 
clothing, furniture, and utensils from England, to support the expen 
ses of its own internal government, obliged by its duty to comply with 
every call from the Crown, to raise money in emergencies; after all 
this, can every man in it pay twenty-four shillings a year for the du 
ties of a single article only? There is surely no man in his right mind 
believes this possible. The charging foreign molasses with this high 
duty will not affect all the colonies equally, nor any other near so 
much as this of Rhode Island, whose trade depended more on foreign 
molasses and on distilleries than that of any other; this must show 
that raising money for the general services of the Crown or colonies 
by such a duty will be extremely unequal, and therefore unjust. And 
by taking either alternative, and by supposing, on the one hand, the 
foreign molasses trade is stopped, and with it the principal ability of 
the colonies to get money, but, on the other hand, that this trade is 
continued and that the colonies get money from it, but all their money 
is taken from them by paying their duty; can Britain be the gainer 
by this? Is it not the chosen interest of Britain to dispose of 
and be paid for her own manufactures? And doth she not find 
the greatest and best market for them in her own colonies? Will 
she find an advantage in disabling the colonies to continue their 
trade with her? Or can she possibly grow rich by their being made 

Ministers have great influence, and parliaments have great power; 
can either of them change the nature of things, stop our means of 
getting money, and yet expect us to purchase and pay for British 
manufactures? The genius of the people in these colonies is as little 
turned to manufacturing goods for their own use as is possible to sup 
pose in any people whatsoever, yet necessity will compel them either 
to go naked in this cold country, or to make themselves something 
of clothing, if it be only of the skins of beasts. 

By the same act of parliament the exportation of all kinds of timber 
or lumber, the most natural product of these colonies, is greatly en 
cumbered and uselessly embarrassed, and the shipping it to any port 


in Europe except Great Britain is prohibited. This must greatly af 
fect the linen manufacture in Ireland, as that kingdom used to receive 
great quantities of flax-seed from America, many cargoes being made 
of that, and barrel-staves were sent thither every year; but as the 
staves can no longer be exported thither, the ships carrying flax-seed 
casks without the staves which used to be intermixed among them must 
lose one half of their weight, which will prevent their continuing this 
trade, to the great injury to Ireland and of the plantations; and what 
advantage is to accrue to Great Britain by it must be told by those who 
can perceive the utility of this measure. 

Enlarging the power and jurisdiction of the courts of vice-admiralty 
in the colonies, is another part of the same act greatly and justly 
complained of. Courts of admiralty have long been there in most of 
the colonies whose authority were circumscribed within moderate ter 
ritorial jurisdictions, and whose courts have always done the business 
necessary to be brought before these courts for trial in the manner it 
ought to be done, and in a way only moderately expensive to the sub 
jects ; and if seizures were made, or informations exhibited, without 
reason or contrary to law, the informer or seizer was left to the jus 
tice of the common law, there to pay for his folly or suffer for his 

But now this case is quite altered, and a custom-house officer may 
make a seizure in Georgia of goods ever so legally imported, and 
carry the trial to Halifax, at fifteen hundred miles distance, and 
thither the owner must follow him to defend his property; and when 
he comes there, quite beyond the circle of his friends, acquaintance, 
and correspondence, among total strangers, he must there give bond, 
and must find sureties to be bound with him in a large sum before he 
shall be admitted to claim his own goods ; when this is complied with, 
he hath a trial and his goods acquitted. If the judge can be prevailed 
upon (which it is very well known may too easily be done) to cer 
tify there was only probable cause for making the seizure, the un 
happy owner may not maintain any action against the illegal seizure 
for damages, or obtain any satisfaction ; but he may return to Georgia 
quite ruined and undone, in conformity to an act of parliament. Such 
unbounded encouragement and protection given to informers must 
call to every one s remembrance Tacitus s account of the miserable 
condition of the Romans in the reign of Tiberius their emperor, who 
let loose and encouraged the informers of that age. Surely, if the 
colonies had been fully heard before this had been done, the liberties 
of the Americans would not have been so much disregarded. 

The resolution that the House of Commons came into during the 
same session of parliament, asserting their right to establish stamp 
duties and internal taxes, to be collected in the colonies without their 
own consent, hath much more, and for much more reason, alarmed the 
British ?ubiects in America than anything that had ever been done 

1 2 A ME R 1C. 1 .V PA TRIO 7 SSJf. 

before. These resolutions have been since carried into execution by 
an act of parliament which the colonies do conceive is a violation of 
their long-enjoyed rights. For it must be confessed by all men that 
they who are taxed at pleasure by others cannot possibly have any 
property, can have nothing to be called their own ; they who have no 
property can have no freedom, but are indeed reduced to the most 
abject slavery ; are in a state far worse than countries conquered and 
made tributary, for ;hcse have only a fixed sum to pay, which they are 
left to raise among themselves in the way that they may think most 
equal and easy, and having paid the stipulated sum the debt is dis 
charged and what is left is their own. This is more tolerable than to 
be taxed at the will of others, without any bounds, without, any stipu 
lations or agreements, contrary to their consent and against their 
wills. If we arc told that those who lay taxes upon the colonies are 
men of the highest character for wisdom, justice, and integrity, and 
therefore cannot be supposed to deal hardly, unjustly, or unequally 
by any; admitting and really believing that all this is true, it will 
make no alteration in the case; for one who is bound to obey the will 
of another is as really a slave, though he may have a good master, 
as if he had a bad one ; and this is stronger in politic bodies than in 
natural ones, as the former have a perpetual succession, and remain 
the same ; and although they may have a good master at one time, 
they may have a very bad one at another. And indeed, if the people 
in America are to be taxed by the representatives of the people in 
Britain, their malady is an increasing evil that must always grov/ 
greater by time. Whatever burdens are laid upon the Americans will 
be that much taken off the Britons ; and the doing this will soon be 
extremely popular, and those who are put up to be members of the 
House of Commons must obtain the votes of the people by promising 
to take taxes off them by making new levies on the Americans. This 
must most assuredly be the case, and it will not be in the power even 
of the Parliament to prevent it ; the people s private interest will be 
concerned, and will govern them ; they will have such and only such 
representatives as will act agreeably to their interest ; and these taxes 
laid on Americans will be always a part of the supply bill in which 
the other branches of the legislature can make no alteration : and in 
truth, the subjects in the colonies will be taxed at the will and pleasure 
of their fellow-subjects in Britain. How equitable and how just this 
may be, must be left to every impartial man to determine. 

But it will be said, that the moneys drawn from the colonies by 
duties and by taxes will be laid up and set apart to be used for their 
future defence. This will not at all alleviate the hardships, but serve 
only the more strongly to mark the servile state of the people. Free 
people have ever thought, and will think, that the money necessary for 
their defence lies safest in their own hands until it be wanted im 
mediately for that purpose. To take the monev of the Americans, 

STEP HEX //CVYv AV.y. 13 

which they want continually to use in their trade, and lay it up for 
their defence at a thousand leagues distance from them, when the 
enemies they have to fear are in their own neighborhood, hath not 
the greatest probability of friendship or of prudence. 

It is not the judgment of free people only that money for defence 
is safest in their keeping, but it is also the opinion of the best and 
wisest kings and governors of mankind in every age of the world 
that the wealth of a state was most securely as well as most profitably 
deposited in the hands of their faithful subjects. Constantius, em 
peror of the Romans, though an absolute prince, both practised and 
praised this method. 

" Diocletian sent persons on purpose to reproach him with his ne 
glect of the public, and the poverty to which he was reduced by his 
own fault. Constantius heard these reproaches with patience ; and 
having persuaded those who made them in Diocletian s name to 
stay a few days with him, he sent word to the most wealthy persons 
in the province, that he wanted money, and that they had now an 
opportunity of showing whether or not they really loved their prince. 
Upon this notice, every one strove who should be foremost in carry 
ing to the exchequer all their gold, silver and valuable effects, so that 
in a short time Constantius from being the poorest became by far the 
most wealthy of all the four princes. He then invited the deputies of 
Diocletian to visit his treasury, desiring them to make a faithful report 
to their master of the state in which they should find it. They obeyed, 
and while they stood gazing upon the mighty heaps of gold and silver, 
Constantius told them that the wealth which they beheld with aston 
ishment had long since belonged to him but that he had left it by 
way of deposition, in the hands of his people, adding that the richest 
and surest treasure of the prince was the love of his subjects. The 
deputies were no sooner gone than the generous prince sent for those 
who had assisted him in his exigency, commended their zeal and re- 
returned to every one what they had so readily brought into his 

\Ve are not insensible that when liberty is in danger the liberty of 
complaining is dangerous ; yet a man on a wreck was never denied 
the liberty of roaring as loud as he could, says Dean Swift. And we 
believe no good reason can be given why the colonies should not mod 
estly and soberly inquire, what right the Parliament of Great Britain 
have to tax them. We know that such inquiries have by one letter- 
writer been branded with the little epithet of " Mushroom Policy," 
and he intimates that if the colonies pretend to claim any privileges, 
they will draw down the resentment of the Parliament on them. Is 
then the defence of liberty so contemptible, and pleading for just 
rights so dangerous ? Can the guardians of liberty be thus ludicrous ? 
Can the patrons of freedom be so jealous and so severe ? 

Should it be urged that the money expended by the mother country 

14 A MKR /( \-l & / . / 7 7vV6> TISM. 

for the defence and protection of America, and especially during the 
late war, must justly entitle her to some retaliation from the colonies, 
and that the stamp duties and taxes intended to be raised in them are 
only designed for that equitable purpose; if we are permitted to 
examine how far this may rightfully vest the Parliament with the 
power of taxing the colonies, we shall find this claim to have no 
foundation. In many of the colonies, especially those in New Eng 
land, which were planted, as is before observed, not at the charge of 
the Crown or kingdom of England, but at the expense of the planters 
themselves, and were not only planted, but also defended against the 
savages and other enemies in long and cruel wars which continued for 
an hundred years, almost without intermission, solely at their own 
charge; and in the year 1746, when the Duke d Anville came out from 
France with the most formidable fleet that ever was in the American 
seas, enraged at these colonies for the loss of Louisburg the year 
before, and with orders to make an attack on them; even in this 
greatest exigence these colonies were left to the protection of heaven 
and their own efforts. These colonies having thus planted themselves 
and removed all enemies from their borders, were in hopes to enjoy 
peace and recruit their state, much exhausted by these long struggles; 
but they were soon called upon to raise men and send them out to the 
defence of other colonies, and to make conquests for the Crown; they 
dutifully obeyed the requisition, and with ardor entered into these ser 
vices and continued in them until all encroachments were removed, and 
all Canada, and even the Ha /ana conquered. They most cheerfully 
complied with every call of the Crown; they rejoiced, yea even exulted, 
in the prosperity of the British empire. But these colonies whose 
bounds we fixed, and whose borders w r ere before cleared of enemies by 
their own fortitude, and at their own expense, reaped no sort of 
advantage by these conquests; they are not enlarged, have not gained 
a single acre, have no part in the Indian or interior trade; the 
immense tracts of land subdued, and no less immense and profitable 
commerce acquired, all belong to Great Britain, and not the least share 
or portion to these colonies, though thousands of their numbers have 
lost their lives, and millions of their money have been expended in the 
purchase of them for great part of which we are yet in debt and from 
which we shall not in many years be able to extricate ourselves. Hard 
will be the fate, cruel the destiny of these unhappy colonies, if the 
reward they are to receive for all this is the loss of their freedom; 
better for them Canada still remained French, yea, far more eligible 
that it should remain so, than that the price of its reduction should be 
their slavery. 

If the colonies are not taxed by ParPament are they therefore ex 
empt from bearing their proper shares in the necessary burdens of 
government? This by no means follows. Do they not support a 
regular internal government in each colony as expensive to the peo- 


pie here, as the internal government of Britain is to the people 
there? Have not the colonies here at all times, when called upon by 
the to raise money for the public service, done it as cheerfully 
a.> the Parliament have done on the like occasions? Is not this the 
most easy way of raising money in the colonies? What occasion then 
to distrust the colonies, what necessity to fall on the present mode to 
compel them to do what they have ever done freely? Are not the 
people in the colonies as loyal and dutiful subjects as any age or nation 
ever produced, and are they not as useful to the kingdom in this 
remote quarter of the world as their fellow-subjects are in Britain? 
The Parliament, it is confessed, have power to regulate the trade of 
the whole empire: and hath it not full power by this means to draw 
all the money and wealth of the colonies into the mother country at 
pleasure? What motive, after all this, can remain to induce the 
Parliament to abridge the privileges and lessen the rights of the most 
loyal and dutiful subjects; subjects justly entitled to ample freedom, 
who have long enjoyed and not abused or forfeited their liberties, who 
have used them to their own advantage, in dutiful subserviency to the 
orders and the interests of Great Britain? Why should the gentle 
current of tranquillity, that has so long run with peace through all the 
British States, and flowed with joy and happiness in all her countries, 
be at last obstructed and turned out of its true course into unusual and 
winding channels, by which many of these colonies must be ruined; 
but none of them can possibly be made more rich or more happy. 

Before we conclude, it may be necessary to take notice of the vast 
difference there is between the raising money in a country by duties, 
taxes, or -otherwise, and employing and laying out the money again 
in the same country; and raising the like sums of money by the like 
means and sending it away quite out of the country where it is raised. 
Where the former of these is the case, although the sums raised may 
be very great, yet that country may support itself under them; for as 
fast as the money is collected together it is scattered abroad, to be 
used in commerce and every kind of business; and money is not made 
scarcer by this means, but rather the contrary, as this continual circu 
lation must have a tendency in some degree to prevent its being 
hoarded. But where the latter method is pursued the effect will be . 
extremely different; for here, as fast as the money can be collected it 
is immediately sent out of the country, never to return but by a te 
dious round of commerce, which at best must take up some time; 
here all trade and every kind of business depending upon it will grow 
dull and must languish more and more, until it comes to a final stop at 
last. If the money raised in Great Britain in the three last years of the 
war, and which exceeded forty millions sterling, had been sent out of 
the kingdom, would not this have nearly ruined the trade of the nation 
in three years only? Think (hen what must be th-: condition of these 
miserable colonies when all the money proposed to be raised in them 


by high duties on the importation of divers kinds of goods by the post- 
office, by stamp duties, and other taxes, is sent way quite as fast as it 
can be collected; and this is to be repeated continually ! Is it possible 
for the colonies under these circumstances to support themselves, to 
have any money, any trade, or other business carried on in them? 
Certainly not; nor is there at present, or ever was, any country under 
heaven that did or possibly could support itself under such burdens. 

We finally beg leave to assert that the first planters of these 
colonies were pious Christians, were faithful subjects; who, with a 
fortitude and perseverance little known and less considered, settled 
these wild countries, by God s goodness and their own amazing labors, 
thereby adding a most valuable dependance to the Crown of Great 
Britain; were ever dutifully subservient to her interests; they so 
taught their children that not one has been disaffected to this day, and 
all have honestly obeyed every royal command and cheerfully sub 
mitted to every constitutional law. They have as little inclination as 
they have ability to throw off their dependency; they have most care 
fully avoided every measure that might be offensive, and all such 
manufactures as were interdicted. Besides all this, they have risked 
their lives when they have been ordered, and furnished money when 
ever it has been called for ; have never been either troublesome or 
expensive to the mother country ; have kept all due order, and have 
supported a regular government ; they have maintained peace, and 
practised Christianity. And in all conditions, upon all occasions, they 
have always demeaned themselves as loyal, as dutiful subjects ought to 
do; and no kingdom or state or empire hath, or ever had, colonies more 
obedient, more serviceable, more profitable than these have ever been. 

May the same Divine Goodness that guided the first planters, that 
protected the settlements, and inspired kings to be gracious, parlia 
ments to be tender, ever preserve, ever protect, and support our 
present most gracious King; give grea>. wisdom to his ministers and 
much understanding to his parliament; perpetuate the sovereignty of 
the British Constitution, and the filial dependancy of all the colonies. 


Philadelphia, January 7, 1768. 

SIR: As the cause of the present ill-humor in America, and of the 
resolutions taken there to purchase less of our manufactures, does not 
seem to be generally understood, it may afford some satisfaction to 


your readers if you give them the following short historical state ot 

From the time that the colonies were first considered as capable of 
granting aids to the crown, down to the end of the last war, it is said 
that the constant mode of obtaining those aids was by requisition made 
from the crown, through its governors, to the several Assemblies, in 
circular letters from the Secretary of State, in his Majesty s name, 
setting forth the occasion, requiring them to take the matter into con 
sideration, and expressing a reliance on their prudence, duty, and 
affection to his Majesty s government, that they would grant such 
sums, or raise such numbers of men, as were suitable to their respec 
tive circumstances. 

The colonies, being accustomed to this method, have from time to 
time granted money to the crown, or raised troops for its service, in 
proportion to their abilities ; and during all the last war beyond their 
abilities, so that considerable sums were returned them yearly by Par 
liament, as the:y had exceeded their proportion. 

Had this happy method of requisition been continued (a method 
that left the King s subjects in those remote countries the pleasure of 
showing their zeal and loyalty, and of imagining that they recom 
mended themselves to tl.eir sovereign by the liberality of their volun 
tary grants), there is no doubt but all the money that could reasonably 
be expected to be raised from them in any manner might have been 
obtained without the least heart-burning, offence, or breach of the 
harmony of affections and interests that so long subsisted between the 
two countries. 

It has been thought wisdom in a government exercising sovereignty 
over different kinds of people, to have some regard to prevailing and 
established opinions among the people to be governed, wherever such 
opinions might, in their effects, obstruct or promote public measures. 
If they tend to obstruct public service they are to be changed, if pos 
sible, before we attempt to act against them; and they can be changed 
only by reason and persuasion. But, if public business can be car 
ried on without thwarting those opinions, if they can be, on the con 
trary, made subservient to it, they are not unnecessarily to be 
thwarted, however absurd such popular opinions may be in their 

This had been the wisdom of our government with respect to raising 
money in the colonies. It was well known that the colonists univer 
sally wece of opinion thai no money could be levied from English 
subjects but by their own consent, given by themselves or their 
chosen representatives; that, therefore, whatever money was to be 
raised from the people in the colonies must first be granted by their 
Assemblies, as the money raised in Britain is first to be granted by 
the House of Commons; that this right of granting their own money 
was essential to English liberty; and that, if any man, or body of men, 


in which they had no representative of their choosing, could tax them 
at pleasure, they could not be said to have any property, anything 
they could call their own. But, as these opinions did not hinder their 
granting money voluntarily and amply, whenever the crown by its 
servants came into their Assemblies (as it does into its Parliaments of 
Britain and Ireland), and demanded aids, therefore that method was 
chosen, rather than the hateful one of arbitrary taxes. 

I do not undertake here to support these opinions of the Americans; 
they have been refuted by a late act of Parliament, declaring its own 
power ; which very Parliament, however, showed wisely so much 
tender regard to those inveterate prejudices as to repeal a tax that 
had militated against them. And those prejudices are still so fixed and 
rooted in the Americans, that it has been supposed not a single man 
among them has been convinced of his error, even by that act of Par 

The person, then, who first projected to lay aside the accustomed 
method of requisition, and to raise money in America by stamps, seems 
not to have acted wisely in deviating from, that method (which the 
colonists looked upon as constitutional), and thwarting unnecessarily 
the fixed prejudices of so great a number of the King s subjects. It 
was not, however, for want of knowledge that what he was about to 
do would give them offence ; he appears to have been very sensible of 
this, and apprehensive that it might occasion some disorders; to pre 
vent or suppress which he projected another bill, that w y as brought in 
the same session with the Stamp Act, whereby it was to be made lawful 
for military officers in the colonies to quarter their soldiers in private 

This seemed intended to awe the people into a compliance with the 
other act. Great opposition, however, being raised here against the 
bill by the agents from the colonies and the merchants trading hither, 
(the colonists declaring, that, under such a power in the army no one 
could look on his house as his own, or think he .had a home, when 
soldiers might be thrust into it and mixed with his family at the 
pleasure of an officer), that part of the bill was dropped; but there still 
remained a clause, when it passed into a law, to oblige the several 
Assemblies to provide quarters for the soldiers, furnishing them with 
firing, bedding, candles, small beer or rum, and sundry other articles, 
at the expense of the several provinces. And this act continued in 
force when the Stamp Act was repealed ; though, if obligatory on the 
Assemblies, it equally militated against the American principle above 
mentioned, that money is not to be raised on English subjects without 
their consent. 

The colonies nevertheless, being put into high good-humor by the 
repeal of the Stamp Act chose to avoid a fresh dispute upon the 
other, it being temporary and soon to expire, never, as they hoped, 
to revive again , and in the meantime they, by various ways, iu 


different colonies, provided for the quartering of the troops ; either by 
acts of their own Assemblies, without taking notice of the act of Par 
liament, or by some variety or small diminution, as of salt and 
vinegar, in the supplies required by the act ; that what they did might 
appear a voluntary act of their own, and not done in due obedience to 
an act of Parliament, which, according to their ideas of their rights, 
they thought hard to obey. 

It might have been well if the matter had then passed without no 
tice ; but, a governor having written home an angry and aggravating 
letter upon this conduct in the Assembly of his province, the outed 
proposer of the Stamp Act and his adherents, then in the opposition, 
raised such a clamor against America as being in rebellion, and 
against those who had been for the repeal of the Stamp Act as having 
thereby been encouragers of this supposed rebellion, that it was 
thought necessary to enforce the quartering act by another act of 
Parliament, taking away from the province of New York, which had 
been the most explicit in its refusal, ail the powers of legislation, till 
it should have complied with that act. The news of which greatly 
alarmed the people everywhere in America, as (it had been said) the 
language of such an act seemed to them to be : Obey implicitly laws 
made by the Parliament of Great Britain to raise money on you with 
out your consent, or you shall enjoy no rights or privileges at all. 

At the same time a person lately in high office projected the levy 
ing more money from America, by new duties on various articles of 
our own manufacture, as glass, paper, painters colors, etc., appoint 
ing a new Board of Customs, and sending over a set of commission 
ers, with large salaries, to be established at Boston, who were to have 
the care of collecting those duties, which were by the act expressly 
mentioned to be intended for the payment of the salaries of governors, 
judges, and other officers of the Crown in America, it being a pretty 
general opinion here that those officers ought not to depend on the 
people there for any part of their support. 

It is not my intention to combat this opinion. But perhaps it may 
be some satisfaction to your readers to know what ideas the Americans 
have on the subject. They say then, as to governors, that they are 
not like princes, whose posterity have an inheritance in the govern 
ment of the nation and therefore an interest in its prosperity. They 
are generally strangers to the provinces they are sent to govern. 
They have no estate, natural connection, or relation there to give 
them an affection for the country ; that they come only to make 
money as fast as they can ; are sometimes men of vicious character 
and broken fortunes, sent by a minister merely to get them out of the 
way ; that as they intend staying in the country no longer than their 
government continues, and purpose to leave no family behind them, 
they are apt to be regardless of the good will of the people, and care 
not what is said or thought of them after they are gone. 


Their situation, at the same time, gives them many opportunities of 
being vexatious, and they are often so, notwithstanding their depend 
ence on the Assemblies for all that part of their support that does not 
arise from fees established by law, but would probably be much more 
so if they were to be supported by money drawn from the people with 
out their consent or good will, which is the professed design of the 
new act. That if by means of these forced duties government is to 
be supported in America without the intervention of the Assemblies, 
their Assemblies will soon be looked upon as useless, and a governor 
will not call them, as having nothing to hope from their meeting and 
perhaps something to fear from their inquiries into and remonstrances 
against his maladministration. That urns the people will be deprived 
of their most essential rights. That it being, as at present, a govern 
or s interest to cultivate the good will by promoting the welfare of the 
people he governs, can be attended with no prejudice to the mother 
country, since all the laws he may be prevailed on to give his assent 
to are subject to revision here, and if reported against by the Board of 
Trade are immediately repealed by the Crown ; nor dare he pass any 
law contrary to his instructions, as he holds his office during the 
pleasure of the Crown, and his securities are liable for the penalties of 
their bonds if he contravenes those instructions. This is what they 
say as to governors. 

As to judges, they allege that, being appointed from this country, 
and holding their commissions not during good behavior, as in Britain, 
but during pleasure, all the weight of interest or influence would be 
thrown into one of the scales (which ought to be held even), if the 
salaries are also to be paid out of duties raised upon the people with 
out their consent, and independent of their Assemblies approbation 
or disapprobation of the judge s behavior. That it is true judges 
should be free from all influence ; and, therefore, whenever govern 
ment here will grant commissions to able and honest judges during 
gocd behavior, the Assemblies will settle permanent and ample sala 
ries on them during their commissions ; but at present they have no 
other means of getting rid of an ignorant or unjust judge (and some 
of scandalous characters have, they say, been sometimes sent them], 
left but by starving them out. 

I do not suppose these reasonings of theirs will appear here to 
have rmch weight I do not produce them with an expectation of 
convincing your readers. I relate them merely in pursuance of the 
task I have imposed on myself to be an impartial historian of Ameri 
can facts and opinions 

The colonists being thus greatly alarmed, as I said before, by the 
revvs of the act for abolishing the Legislature of New York and the 
imposition of these new duties, professedly for such disagreeable pur 
poses (accompanied by a new set of revenue officers with large ap 
pointments, which gave strong suspicions that more business of the 


same kind was soon to be provided for them, that they might earn their 
salaries), began seriously to consider their situation, and to revolve 
afresh in their minds grievances which from their respect and love for 
this country they had long borne, and seemed almost willing to forget. 

They reflected how lightly the interest of all America had been es 
timated here, when the interests of a few of the inhabitants of Great 
Britain happened to have the smallest competition with it. That the 
whole American people was forbidden the advantage of a direct im 
portation of wine, oil and fruit from Portugal, but must take them 
loaded with all the expense of a voyage one thousand leagues round 
about, being to be landed first in England, to be reshipped for Amer 
ica, expenses amounting, in war time at least, to thirty pounds per 
cent more than otherwise they would have been charged with ; and 
all this merely that a few Portugal merchants in London may gain a 
commission on those goods passing through their hands (Portugal 
merchants, by the by, that can complain loudly of the smallest hard 
ships laid on their trade by foreigners, and yet even in the last year 
could oppose with all their influence the giving ease to their fellow- 
subjects laboring under so heavy an oppression!) That on a slight 
complaint of a few Virginia merchants nine colonies had been re 
strained from making paper money, become absolutely necessary to 
their internal commerce, from the constant remittance of their gold 
and silver to Britain. 

But not only the interest of a particular body of merchants, but the 
interest of any small body of British tradesmen or artificers, has been 
found, they say, to outweigh that of all the King s subjects in the 
Colonies. There cannot be a stronger natural right than that of a 
man s making the best profit he can of the natural produce of his 
lands, provided he does not thereby hurt the State in general. Iron 
is to be found everywhere in America, and the beaver furs are the 
natural produce of that country. Hats and nails and steel are wanted 
there as well as here. It is of no importance to the common welfare 
of the empire whether a subject of the King s obtains his living by 
making hats on this or that side of the water. Yet the hatters of 
England have prevailed to obtain an act in their own favor, restraining 
that manufacture in America, in order to oblige the Americans to send 
their beaver to England to be manufactured, and purchase back the 
hats, loaded with the charges of a double transportation. 

In the same manner have a few nail-makers, and a still smaller body 
of steel-makers (perhaps there are not a half a dozen of these in Eng 
land), prevailed totally to forbid by an act of Parliament the erecting 
of slitting-mills, or steel furnaces, in America; that the Americans may 
be obliged to take all their nails for their buildings, and steel for their 
tools, from these artificers, under the same disadvantages. 

Added to these, the Americans remembered the act authorizing the 
most cruel insult that perhaps was ever offered to one people by 


another, that of emptying our jaifs into their settlements; Scotland, 
too, having within these two years obtained the privilege it had not 
before, of sending its rogues and villains also to the plantations. I 
say, reflecting on these things, they said one to another (their news 
papers are full of such discourses): "These people are not content 
with making a monopoly of us, forbidding us to trade with any other 
country of Europe, and compelling us to buy everything of them, 
though in many articles we could furnish ourselves ten, twenty, and 
even fifty per cent, cheaper elsewhere ; but now they have as good as 
declared they have a right to tax us ad libitum internally and exter 
nally; and that our constitutions and liberties shall all be taken away 
if we do not submit to that claim. 

" They are not content with the high prices at which they sell us 
their goods, but have now begun to enhance those prices by new 
duties; and, by the expensive apparatus of a new set of officers appear 
to intend a new augmentation and multiplication of those burdens that 
shall still be more grievous to us. Our people have been foolishly 
fond of their superfluous modes and manufactures, to the impoverish 
ing our own country, carrying off all our cash, and loading us with 
debt ; they will not suffer us to restrain the luxury of our inhabitants 
as they do that of their own, by laws ; they can make laws to dis 
courage or prohibit the importation of French superfluities, but though 
those of England are as ruinous to us as the French ones arc to them, 
if we make a law of that kind they immediately repeal it. 

"Thus they get all our money from us by trade; and every profit 
we can anywhere make by our fisheries, our produce, or our com 
merce, centres finally with them; but this does not signify. It is time, 
then, to take care of ourselves by the best means in our power. Let 
us unite in solemn resolution and engagements with and to each 
other, that we will give these new officers as little trouble as possible, 
by not consuming the British manufactures on which they are to levy 
the duties. Let us agree to consume no more of their expensive gew 
gaws. Let us live frugally, and let us industriously manufacture what 
we can for ourselves; thus we shall be able honorably to discharge 
the debts we already owe them, and after that we may be able to keep 
some money in our country, not only for the uses of our internal com 
merce, but for the service of our gracious Sovereign, whenever he 
shall have occasion for it, and think proper to require it of us in the 
old constitutional manner. For, notwithstanding the reproaches 
thrown out against us in their public papers and pamphlets, notwith 
standing we have been reviled in their Senate as rebels and traitors, 
we are truly =a loyal people. Scotland has had its rebellions, and 
England its plots against the present royal family; but America is iiu- 
tainted ii>ith those crimes ; there is in it scarce a man, there is not a 
single native of our country, who is not firmly attached to his King 
by principle and by affection. 


" But a new kind of loyalty seems to be required of us a loyalty to 
Parliament ; a loyalty that is to extend, it is said, to a surrender of 
all our properties, whenever a House of Commons, in which there is 
not a single member of our choosing, shall think fit to grant them 
away without our consent; and to a patient suffering the loss of our 
privileges as Englishmen, if we cannot submit to make such sur 
render. We were separated too far from Britain by the ocean, but we 
were united to it by respect and love, so that we could at any time 
freely have spent our lives and little fortunes in its cause; but this 
unhappy new system of politics tends to dissolve those bands of union, 
and to sever us forever." 

These are the wild ravings of the, at present, half distracted Amer 
icans. To be sure, no reasonable man in England can approve of 
such sentiments, and, as I said before, I do not pretend to support or 
justify them; but I sincerely wish, for the sake of the manufactures 
and commerce of Great Britain, and for the sake of the strength, 
which a firm union with our growing colonies would give us, that 
these people had never been thus needlessly driven out of their senses* 

I am yours, etc., F. S. 


Boston, March 18, 1769. 

DEARLY BELOVED : Revolving time hath brought about another 
anniversary of the repeal of the odious Stamp Act an act framed to 
divest us of our liberties and to bring us to slavery, poverty, and 
misery. The resolute stand made by the Sons of Liberty against the 
detestable policy had more effect in bringing on the repeal than any 
conviction in the Parliament in Great Britain of the injustice and 
iniquity of the act. It was repealed from principles of convenience to 
Old England, and accompanied with a declaration of their right to 
tax us; and since, the same Parliament have passed acts which, if 
obeyed in the colonies, will be equally fatal. 

Although the people of Great Britain be only fellow-subjects, they 
have of late assumed a power to compel us to buy at their market 
such things as we want of European produce and manufacture; and 
at the same time, have taxed many of the articles for the express pur 
pose of a revenue; and, for the collection of the duties have sent 
fleets, armies, commissioners, guardacostas, judges of admiralty, and 
A. P. -2. 


a host of petty officers, whose insolence and rapacity are become in. 
tolerable. Our cities are garrisoned; the peace and order which here 
tofore dignified our streets are exchanged for the horrid blasphemies 
and outrage of soldiers; our trade is obstructed; our vessels and 
cargoes, the effects of industry, violently seized; and, in a word, every 
species of injustice that a wicked and debauched Ministry could in 
vent is practised against the most sober, industrious, and loyal peo 
ple that ever lived in society. The joint supplications of all the 
colonies have been rejected, and letters and mandates, in terms of the 
highest affront and indignity, have been transmitted from little and 
insignificant servants of the Crown to his Majesty s grand and august 
sovereignties in America. 

These things being so, it becomes us, my brethren, to walk worthy 
of our vocation, to use every lawful means to frustrate the wicked 
designs of our enemies at home and abroad, and to unite against the 
evil and pernicious machinations of those who would destroy us. I 
judge that nothing can have a better tendency to this grand end than 
encouraging our own manufactures, and a total disuse of foreign 

When I consider the corruption of Great Britain, their load of debt, 
their intestine divisions, tumults and riots, their scarcity of pro 
visions, and the contempt in which they are held by the nations about 
them; and when I consider, on the other hand, the state of the Ameri 
can colonies with regard to the various climates, soils, produce, rapid 
population, joined to the virtue of the inhabitants, I cannot but think 
that the conduct of Old England towards us may be permitted by Divine 
wisdom, and ordained by the unsearchable providence of the Al 
mighty, for hastening a period dreadful to Great Britain. 



Philadelphia^ February 15, 1768. 

MY DEAR COUNTRYMEN Some states have lost their liberty by par 
ticular accidents : but this calamity is generally owing to the decay of 
virtue. A people is travelling fast to destruction, when individuals 
consider their interests as distinct from those of the public. Such no 
tions are fatal to their country, and to themselves. Yet how many 
are there, so weak and sordid as to think they perform all the offices 


of life, if they earnestly endeavour to encrease their own wealth, pow 
er, and credit, without the least regard for the society, under the pro 
tection of which they live ; who, if they can make an immediate profit 
to themselves, by lending their assistance to those, whose projects 
plainly tend to the injury of their country, rejoice in their dexterity, 
and believe themselves entitled to the character of able politicians. 
Miserable men ! of whom it is hard to say, whether they ought to be 
most the objects of pity or contempt : but whose opinions are cer 
tainly as detestable, as their practices are destructive. 

Tho I always reflect, with a high pleasure, on the integrity and un 
derstanding of my countrymen; which, joined with a pure and humble 
devotion to the great and gracious author of every blessing they en 
joy, will, I hope, ensure to them, and their posterity, ail temporal and 
eternal happiness ; yet when I consider, that in every age and coun 
try there have been bad men, my heart, at this threatening period, 
is so full of apprehension, as not to permit me to believe, but that 
there may be some on this continent, against whom you ought to be 
upon your guard men, who either hold, or expect to hold certain advan 
tages, by setting examples of servility to their countrymen. Men, 
who trained to the employment, or self taught by a natural versatility 
of genius, serve as decoys for drawing the innocent and unwary into 
snares. It is not to be doubted but that such men will diligently be 
stir themselves on this and every like occasion, to spread the infection 
of their meanness as far as they can. On the plans they have adopted, 
this is their course. This is the method to recommend themselves to 
their patrons. 

From them we shall learn, how pleasant and profitable a thing it is, 
to be for our submissive behavior well spoken of at St. James s, or St. 
Stephen s ; at Guildhall, or the Royal Exchange. Specious fallacies 
will be drest up with all the arts of delusion, to persuade one colony 
to distinguish herself from another, by unbecoming condescensions , 
which will serve the ambitious purposes of great men at home, and 
therefore will be thought by them to entitle their assistants in obtain 
ing them to considerable rewards. 

Our fears will be excited. Our hopes will be awakened. It will be 
insinuated to us, with a plausible affectation of wisdom and concern, 
how prudent it is to please the powerful how dangerous to provoke 
them and then comes in the perpetual incantation that freezes up 
every generous purpose of the soul in cold, inactive expectation 
" that if there is any request to be made, compliance will obtain a 
favorable attention." 

Our vigilance and our union are success and safety. Our negligence 
and our division are distress and death. They are worse they are 
shame and slavery. Let us equally shun the benumbing stillness of 
overweening sloth, and the feverish activity of that ill informed zeal, 
which busies itself in maintaining little, mean, and narrow opinions. 


Let us with a truly wise generosity and charity, banish and discour 
age all illiberal distinctions, which may arise from differences in situa 
tions, forms of government, or modes of religion. Let us consider our 
selves as men freemen Christian freemen separated from the rest 
of the world, and firmly bound together by the same rights, interests 
and dangers. Let these keep our attention inflexibly fixed on the 
I great objects, which we must continually regard in order to preserve 
those rights, to promote those interests, and to avert those dangers. 

Let these truths be indelibly impressed on our minds that we can 
not be happy without being free that we cannot be free without 
being secure in our property that we cannot besecure in our 
property, if without our consent, others may, as by right, take it 
away that taxes imposed on us by Parliament, do thus take it 
away that duties laid for the sole purpose of raising money, are 
taxes that attempts to lay such duties should be instantly and 
firmly opposed that this opposition can never be effectual, unless it 
is the united effort of these provinces that therefore benevolence of 
temper towards each other, and unanimity of councils are essential to 
the welfare of the whole and lastly that for this reason every man 
amongst us, who in any manner would encourage either dissension, 
diffidence, or indifference between these colonies is an enemy to him 
self and to his country. 

The belief of these truths, I verily think, my countrymen, is indis 
pensably necessary to your happiness. I beseech you, therefore, 
" teach them diligently unto your children, and talk of them when 
you sit in your houses, and when you walk by the way, and when you 
lie down, and when you rise up." 

What have these colonies to ask, while they continue free ? Or 
what have they to dread, but insidious attempts to subvert their free 
dom ? Their prosperity does not depend on ministerial favours doled 
out to particular provinces. They form one political body of which 
each colony is a member. Their happiness is founded on their con 
stitution; and is to be promoted by preserving that constitution in un 
abated vigor, throughout every part. A spot, a speck of decay, how 
ever small the limb on which it appears, and however remote it may 
seem from the vitals, should be alarming. We have all the rights re 
quisite for our prosperity. The legal authority of Great Britain may 
indeed lay hard restrictions upon us; but like the spear of Telephus, 
it will cure as well as wound. Her unkindness will instruct and com 
pel us, after some time, to discover in our industry and frugality, sur 
prising remedies if our rights continue unviolated. For as long as 
the products oi our labor, and the rewards of our care, can properly 
be called our own, so long it will be worth our while to be industrious 
and frugal. But if when we plow sow reap gather and thresh 
we find, that we plow sow reap gather and thresh for others, 
whose pleasure is to be the sole limitation how much they shall take 


and how much they shall leave, why should we repeat the unprofitable 
toil ? Horses and oxen are content with that portion of the fruits of 
their work which their owners assign them, in order to keep them 
strong enough to raise successive crops; but even these beasts will 
not submit to draw for their masters, until they are subdued by whips 
and goads. 

Let us take care of our rights, and we therein take care of our pros 
perity. "Slavery is ever preceded by sleep." Individuals maybe 
dependent on ministers, if they please. States should scorn it; and 
if your are not wanting to yourselves, you will have a proper regard 
paid you by those, to whom if you are not respectable, you will be 
contemptible. But, if we have already forgot the reasons that urged 
us, with unexampled unanimity, to exert ourselves two years ago, if 
our zeal for the public good is worn out before the homespun cloaths, 
which it caused us to have made, if our resolutions are so faint, as by 
our present conduct to condemn our own late successful example if 
we are not affected by any reverence for the memory of our ancestors, 
who transmitted to us that freedom in which they had been blest; if 
we are not animated by any regard for posterity, to whom, by tne 
most sacred obligations, we are bound to deliver down the invaluable 
inheritance; then, indeed, any minister, or any tool of a minister, or 
any creature of a tool of a minister, or any lower instrument; 01 ad 
ministration, if lower there be, is a personage whom it may be danger 
ous to offend. 

I shall be extremely sorry, if any man mistakes my meaning in any 
thing I have said. Officers employed by the crown, are, while accord 
ing to the laws they conduct themselves, entitled to legal obedience, 
and sincere respect. These it is a duty to render them; and these no 
good or prudent person will withhold. But when these officers, 
through rashness or design, desire to enlarge their authority beyond 
its due limits, and expect improper concessions to be made to them, 
from regard for the employments they bear, their attempts should be 
considered as equal injuries to the crown and people, and should be 
courageously and constantly opposed. To suffer our ideas to be con 
founded by names on such occasions, would certainly be an inexcusa 
ble weakness, and probably an irremediable error. 

We have reason to believe, that several of his Majesty s present 
ministers are good men, and friends to our country; and it seems not 
unlikely, that by a particular concurrence of events, we have been 
treated a little more severely than they wished we should be. They 
might not think it prudent to stem a torrent. But what is the differ 
ence to us, whether arbitrary acts take their rise from ministers, or 
are permitted by them ? Ought any point to be allowed to a good 
minister, that should be denied to a bad one ? The mortality of 

ministers, is a very frail mortality. A may " icceed a Shel- 

burne A may succeed a Corn way. 


We find a new kind of minister lately spoken of at home "The 
minister of the House of Commons." The term seems to have pecu 
liar propriety when referred to these colonies, with a different, mean 
ing annexed to it, from that in which it is taken there. By the 
word " minister" we may understand not only a servant of the crown, 
but a man of influence among the commons, who regard themselves 
as having a share in the sovereignty over us. The " minister of the 
house" may, in a point respecting the colonies, be so strong, that the 
minister of the crown in the house, if he is a distinct person, may not 
choose, even where his sentiments are favorable to us, to come to a 
pitched battle upon our account. For though I have the highest 
opinion of the deference of the house for the King s minister, yet he 
may be so good natured, as not to put it to the test, except it be for 
the mere and immediate profit of his master or himself. 

But whatever kind of minister he is, that attempt to innovate a 
single iota in the privileges of these colonies, him I hope you will un 
dauntedly oppose; and that you will never suffer yourselves to be 
either cheated or frightened into any unworthy- obsequiousness. On 
such emergencies you may surely, without presumption, believe, that 
Almighty God himself will look down upon your righteous contest 
with gracious approbation. You will be a "band of brothers," 
cemented by the dearest ties, and strengthened with inconceivable 
supplies of force and constancy, by that sympathetic ardor, which 
animates good men, confederated in a good cause. Your honor and 
welfare will be, as they now are, most intimately concerned; and be 
sides, you are assigned by divine providence, in the appointed order 
of things, the protectors of unborn ages, whose fate depends upon 
your virtue. Whether they shall arise the generous and indisputable 
heirs of the noblest patrimonies, or the dastardly and hereditary 
drudges of imperious task-masters, you must determine. 

To discharge this double duty to yourselves, to your posterity, you 
have nothing to do, but to call forth into use the good sense and 
spirit of which you are possessed. You have nothing to do, but to 
conduct your affairs peaceably, prudently, firmly, and jointly. By 
these means you will support the character of freemen, without losing 
that of faithful subjects a good character in any government one of 
the best under a British government you will prove, that Americans 
have that true magnanimity of soul, that can resent injuries, without 
falling into rage; and that though your devotion to Great Britain is 
the most affectionate, yet you can make proper distinctions, and know 
what you owe to yourselves, as well as to her you will, at the same 
time that you advance your interests, advance your reputation 
you will convince the world of the justice of your demands, and 
the purity of your intentions. While all mankind must with un 
ceasing applauses, confess, that you indeed deserve liberty, who 
so well understand it, so passionately love it, so temperately enjoy 


it, and so wisely, bravely, and virtuously assert, maintain, and de 
fend it. 

" Certe ego libertatem, qu<z mihi a parente mco tractiii est, expenar: 
Vcrum id frustra an ob rem faciam t in vestra manu situm est, 

For my part, I am resolved to contend for the liberty delivered 
down to me by my ancestors; but whether I shall do it effectually 
or not, depends on you, my countrymen. 

"How little soever one is able to write, yet when the liberties of 
one s country are threatened, it is still more difficult to be silent." 




Boston Gazette, October 7, 1771. 

" Ambition saw that stooping Rome could bear 
A master, nor had virtue to be free." 

I believe that no people ever yet groaned under the heavy yoke of 
slavery but when they deserved it. This may be called a severe cen 
sure upon by far the greatest part of the nations in the world who are 
involved in the miseries of servitude. But however thay may be thought 
by some to deserve commiseration, the censure is just. Zuinglius, 
one of the first reformers, in his friendly admonition to the republic 
of the Svvitzers, discourses much of his countrymen s throwing off the 
yoke. He says that they who lie under oppression deserve what they 
suffer and a great deal more, and he bids them perish with their 
oppressors. The truth is, all might be free, if they valued freedom 
and defended it as they ought. It is possible that millions could be 
enslaved by a few, which is a notorious fact, if all possessed the inde 
pendent spirit of Brutus, who, to his immortal honor, expelled the 
proud tryant of Rome and his " Royal and rebellious race." If, 
therefore, a people will not be free, if they have not virtue enough to 
maintain their liberty against a presumptuous invader, they deserve 
no pity, and are to be treated with contempt and ignominy. Had not 
Caesar seen that Rome was ready to stoop he would not have dared 
to make himself the master of that once brave people. He was, 


indeed, as a great writer observes, a smooth and subtle tyrant, who 
led them gently into slavery, "and on his brow o er daring vice, 
deluding virtue smiled." By pretending to be the people s greatest 
friend, he gained the ascendence over them; by beguiling arts, hypoc 
risy, and flattery, which are often more fatal than the sword, he ob 
tained that supreme power which his ambitious soul had long thirsted 
for. The people were finally prevailed upon to consent to their own 
ruin. By the force of persuasion, or rather by cajoling arts and 
tricks, always made use of by men who have ambitious views, they 
enacted their Lex Regia, whereby quod placuit prineipi Icgis httbuit 
in go re ni, that is, the will and pleasure of the prince had the force of 
law. His minions had taken infinite pains to paint to their imagina 
tions the godlike virtues of Caesar. They first persuaded them to be 
lieve that he was a deity, and then to sacrifice to him those rights and 
liberties which their ancestors had so long maintained with unex 
ampled bravery and with blood and treasure. By this act they fixed 
a precedent fatal to all posterity. The Roman people afterwards, in 
fluenced no doubt by this pernicious example, renewed it to his suc 
cessors, not at the end of every ten years, but for life. They trans 
ferred all their right and power to Charles the Great. In enm 
transtulit onine sum jus et potestatem. Thus they voluntarily and 
ignominiously surrendered their own liberty, and exchanged a free 
constitution for a tyranny. 

It is not my design to form a comparison between the state of this 
country now and that of the Roman Empire in those dregs of time, or 

between the disposition of Csesar and that of . The comparison, 

I confess, would not, in all its parts, hold good. The tyrant of Rome, 
to do him justice, had learning, courage, and great abilities. It be 
hooves us, however, to awake, and advert to the danger we are in. 
The tragedy of American freedom, it is to be feared, is nearly com 
pleted. A tyranny seems to be at the very door. It is to little pur 
pose, then, to go about coolly to rehearse the gradual steps that have 
been taken, the means that have been used, and the instruments em 
ployed to compass the ruin of the public liberty. We know them 
and we detest them. But what will this avail, if we have not courage 
and resolution to prevent the completion of their system ? 

Our enemies would fain have us lie down on the bed of sloth and 
security, and persuade ourselves that there is no danger. They are 
daily administering the opiate with multiplied arts and delusions, and I 
am sorry to observe that the gilded pill is so alluring to some who call 
themselves the friends of liberty. But there is no danger when the 
very foundations of our civil constitution tremble. When an attempt 
was first made to disturb the corner-stone of the fabric, we were uni 
versally and justly alarmed. And can we be cool spectators, when we 
see it already removed from its place ? With what resentment and 
indignation did we first receive the intelligence of a design to make us 


tributary, not to natural enemies, but, infinitely more humiliating, to 
fellow-subjects ! And yet, with unparalleled insolence, we are told to 
be quiet when we see that very money which is torn from us by law 
less force made use of still further to oppose us, to feed and pamper 
a set of infamous wretches who swarm like the locusts of Egypt, 
and some of them expect to revel in wealth and riot on the spoils of 
our country. Is it a time for us to sleep when our free government is 
essentially changed, and a new one is forming upon a quite different 
system ? A government without the least dependence on the people 
a government under the absolute control of a minister of state, upon 
whose sovereign dictates is to depend not only the time when, and 
the place where, the Legislative Assembly shall sit, but whether it 
shall sit at all ; and if it is allowed to meet, it shall be liable immedi 
ately to be thrown out of existence if in any one point it fails in 
obedience to his arbitrary mandates. 

Have we not already seen specimens of what we are to expect under 
such a government in the instructions which Mr. Hutchinson has re 
ceived, and which he has publicly avowed and declared he is bound to 
obey ? By one he is to refuse his assent to a tax bill unless the Com 
missioners ot the Customs and other favorites are exempted ; and if 
these may be freed from taxes by the order of a minister, may not all 
his tools and drudges, or any others who are subservient to his 
designs, expect the same indulgence? By another, he is to forbid to 
pass a grant of the Assembly to any agent but one to whose election 
he has given his consent, which is, in effect, to put it out of our power 
to take the necessary and legal steps for the redress of those grievances 
which we suffer by the arts and machinations of ministers and their 
minions here. What difference is there between the present state 
of this province, which in course will be the deplorable state of 
America and that of Rome under the law before mentioned ? The 
difference is only this, that they gave their formal consent to the 
change, which we have not yet done. But let us be upon our 
guard against even a negative submission, for, agreeable to the sen 
timents of a celebrated writer, who thoroughly understood his sub 
ject, if we are voluntarily silent, as the conspirators would have us 
be, it will be considered as an approbation of the change. " By the 
fundamental laws of England the two Houses of Parliament, in con 
cert with the King, exercise the legislative power; but if the two 
Houses should be so infatuated as to resolve to suppress their powers, 
and invest the King with the full and absolute government, certainly 
the nation would not suffer it !" And if a minister shall usurp 
the supreme and absolute government of America, and set up his 
instructions as laws in the colonies, and their governors shall be so 
weak or so wicked as, for the sake of keeping their places, to be made 
the instrument in putting them in execution, who will presume to say 
that the people have not a right, or that it is not their indispensable 


duty to God and their country, by all rational means in their power, 
to resist them! 

" Be firm, my friends, nor let unmanly sloth 
Twine round your hearts indissoluble chains; 
Ne er yet by force was freedom overcome, 
Unless corruption first dejects the pride 
And guardian vigor of the free born souls 
All crude attempts at violence are vain. 

Determined hold 

Your independence; for, that once destroyed, 
Unfounded freedom is a morning dream. 

The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil constitution, 
are worth defending at all hazards ; and it is our duty to defend them 
against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from 
our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and 
danger, and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to 
us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of in 
famy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should 
suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or 
be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men. 
Of the latter, we are in most danger at present. Let us therefore be 
aware of it. Let us contemplate our forefathers and posterity, and 
resolve to maintain the rights bequeathed to us from the former for 
the sake of the latter. Instead of sitting down satisfied with the 
efforts we have already made, which is the wish of our enemies, the 
necessity of the times more than ever calls for our utmost circumspec 
tion, deliberation, fortitude, and perseverance. Let us remember that 
"if we suffer tamely a lawless attack upon our liberty, we encourage 
it, and involve others in our doom!" It is a very serious considera 
tion, which should deeply impress our minds, that millions yet unborn 
may be the miserable sharers in the event ! 





Boston^ November 20, 1772. 

Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First, a right 
to life. Second, to liberty. Thirdly, to property: together with the 
i ight to support and defend them in the best manner they can. These 


are evident branches of, rather than deductions from, the duty of self- 
preservation, commonly called the first law of nature. 

All men have a right to remain in a state of nature as long as they 
please, and in case of intolerable oppression, civil or religious, to 
leave the society they belong to, and enter into another. 

When men enter into society, it is by voluntary consent, and they 
have a right to demand and insist upon the performance of such con 
ditions and previous limitations as form an equitable original compact. 

Every natural right not expressly given up, or, from the nature of a 
social compact necessarily ceded, remains. 

All positive and civil laws should conform, as far as possible, to the 
law of natural reason and equity. 

As neither reason requires nor religion permits the contrary, every 
man living in or out of a state of civil society has a right peaceably 
and quietly to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience. 

"Just and true liberty, equal and impartial liberty," in matters 
spiritual and temporal is a thing that all men are clearly entitled to by 
the eternal and immutable laws of God and nature, as well as by the 
law of nations and all well-grounded municipal laws, which must have 
their foundation in the former. 

In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions 
thereof, is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever prac 
tised, and both by precept and example inculcated on mankind. It is 
now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, 
in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society, is the 
chief characteristical mark of the true Church. Insomuch that Mr. 
Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction 
on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all 
whose doctrines are not subversive of society. The only sects, which 
he thinks ought to be, and which by all wise laws are, excluded from 
such toleration, are those who teach doctrines subversive of the civil 
government under which they live. The Roman Catholics, or Papists, 
are excluded by reason of such doctrines as these : That princes ex 
communicated may be deposed, and those that they call heretics may 
be destroyed without mercy; besides their recognizing the Pope in so 
absolute a manner, in subversion of government, by introducing, as 
far as possible into the states under whose protection they enjoy life, 
liberty and property, that solecism in politics, imperiuni in iinperio, 
leading directly to the worst anarchy and confusion, civil discord, war, 
and bloodshed. 

The natural liberty of man by entering into society is abridged or 
restrained, so far only as is necessary for the great end of society the 
best good of the whole. 

In the state of nature every man is, under God, judge and sole judge 
of his own rights and of the injuries done him. By entering into 
society he agrees to an arbiter or indifferent judge between him and 


his neighbor^; but he no more renounces his original right, thereby 
taking a cause out of the ordinary course of law, and leaving the de 
cision to referees or indifferent arbitrators. In the last case, he must 
pay the referee for time and trouble. He should also be willing to 
pay his just quota for the support of the government, the law and the 
constitution; the end of which is to furnish indifferent and impartial 
judges in all cases that may happen, whether civil, ecclesiastical, 
marine, or military. 

The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on 
earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but 
only to have the law of nature for his rule. 

In the state of nature men may, as the patriarchs did, employ hired 
servants for the defence of their lives, liberties and property, and they 
should pay them reasonable wages. Government was instituted for 
the purpose of common defence, and those who hold the reins of gov 
ernment have an equitable, natural right to an honorable support from 
the same principle that " the laborer is worthy of his hire." But then 
the same community which they serve ought to be the assessors of 
their pay. Governors have a right to seek and take what they please; 
by this, instead of being content with the station assigned them, that 
of honorable servants of the society, they would soon become absolute 
masters, despots and tyrants. Hence, as a private man has a right to 
say what wages he will give in his private affairs, so has a community 
to determine what they will give and grant of their substance for the 
administration of public affairs. And in both cases more are ready to 
offer their service at the proposed and stipulated price than are able 
and willing to perform their duty. 

In short it is the greatest absurdity to suppose it in the power of 
one, or any number of men, at the entering into society to renounce 
their essential natural rights, or the means of preserving those rights, 
when the grand end of civil government, from the very nature of its 
institution, is for the support, protection, and defence of those very 
rights; the principal of which, as is before observed, are life, liberty, 
and property. If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms 
renounce or give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of 
reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such re 
nunciation. The right of freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it 
is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become 
a slave. 


These may be best understood by reading and carefully studying the 
institutes of the great Lawgiver and head of the Christian Church, 
which are to be found clearly written and promulgated in the New 


By the act of the British Parliament, commonly called the Toleration 
Act, every subject in England, except Papists, etc., was restored to, 
and re-established in, his natural right to worship God according to the 
dictates of his own conscience. And by the charter of this province 
it is granted, ordained and established (that is declared as an original 
right), that there shall be liberty of conscience allowed in the worship 
of God to all Christians except Papists, inhabiting, or which shall in 
habit or be resident within such province or territory. Magna Charta 
itself is in substance but a constrained declaration or proclamation 
and promulgation in the name of King, Lords, and Commons of the 
sense the latter had their original, inherent, indefeasible, natural 
rights, as also those of free citizens equally perdurable with the other. 
That great author, that great jurist, and even that court writer, Mr. 
Justice Blackstone, holds that this recognition was justly obtained of 
King John, sword in hand. And peradventure it must be one day, 
sword in hand, again rescued and preserved from total destruction and 


A commonwealth or state is a body politic, or civil society of men 
united together to promote their mutual safety and prosperity by 
means of their union. 

The absolute right of Englishmen and all freemen, in or out of civil 
society, are principally personal security, personal liberty, and private 

All persons born in the British American Colonies, are by the laws 
of God and nature, and by the common law of England, exclusive of 
all charters from the Crown, well entitled, and by acts of the British 
Parliament are declared to be entitled, to all the natural, essential, in 
herent, and inseparable rights, liberties and privileges of subjects born 
in Great Britain or within the realm. Among these rights are the 
following, which no man, or body of men. consistently with their own 
rights as men and citizens, or members of society, can for themselves 
give up or take away from others, 

"First. The first fundamental -positive law of all commonwealths or 
states, is the establishing the legislative power. As the first funda 
mental natural law, also, which is to govern even the legislative power 
itself is the preservation of the society. 

" Secondly. The legislative has no right to absolute arbitrary power 
over the lives and fortunes of the people; nor can mortals assume a 
prerogative not only too high for men, but for angels, and therefore 
reserved for the exercise of the Deity alone. 

" The Legislative cannot justly assume to itself a power to rule by 
extempore arbitrary decrees ; but it is bound to see that justice is dis 
pensed, and that the rights of the subjects be decided by promulgated, 


standing, and known laws, and authorized independent judges;" that 
is, independent, as far as possible, of prince and people. "There 
should be one rule of justice for rich and poor, for the favorite at 
court, and the countryman at the plough. 

"Thirdly. The supreme power cannot justly take from any man 
any part of his property without his consent in person or by his 

These are some of the first principles of natural law and justice, and 
the great barriers of all free states, and of the British Constitution in 
particular. It is utterly irreconcilable to these principles, and to 
many other fundamental maxims of the common law, common sense, 
and reason, that a British House of Commons should have a right 
at pleasure to give and grant the property of the colonists. (That 
the colonists are well entitled to all the essential rights, liberties, and 
privileges of men and freemen born in Britain, is manifest not only 
from the colony charters in general, but acts of the British Parliament.) 
The statute of the I3th of Geo. II, c. 7, naturalizes every foreigner 
after seven years residence. The words of the Massachusetts charter 
are these : " And further, our will and pleasure is, and we do hereby, 
for us, our heirs and successors, grant, establish, and ordain, that all 
and every of the subjects of us, our heirs and successors, which shall 
go to and inhabit within our said Province or Territory, and every of 
their children which shall happen to be born there or on the seas in 
going thither or returning from thence, shall have and enjoy all lib 
erties and immunities of free and natural subjects within any of the 
dominions of us, our heirs and successors, to all intents, constructions, 
and purposes whatsoever, as if they and every one of them were born 
within this, our realm of England." 

Now what liberty can there be where property is taken away with 
out consent? Can it be said with any color of truth and justice that 
this continent of three thousand miles in length, and of a breadth as 
yet unexplored, in which, however, it is supposed there are five 
millions of people, has the least voice, vote, or influence in the British 
Parliament? Have they all together any more weight or power to 
return a single member to that House of Commons who have not in 
advertently, but deliberately, assumed a power to dispose of their 
lives, liberties, and properties, than to choose an Emperor of China? 
Had the colonists a right to return members to the British Parliament, 
it would only be hurtful, as, from their local situation and circum 
stances it is impossible they should ever be truly and properly repre 
sented there. The inhabitants of this country, in all probability, in a 
few years, will be more numerous than those of Great Britain and 
Ireland together ; yet it is absurdly expected by the promoters of the 
present measure that these, with their posterity to all generations, 
should be easy while their property shall be disposed of by a House 
of Commons at three thousand miles distance from them, and who 


cannot be supposed to have the least care or concern for their real 
interest ; who have not only no natural care for their interest, but 
must be in effect bribed against it, as every burden they lay on the 
colonists is so much saved or gained to themselves. Hitherto, many 
of the colonists have been free from quit rents ; but if the breath of 
a British House of Commons can originate an act for taking away all 
our money, our lands will go next, or be subject to rack rent from 
haughty and relentless landlords, who will ride at ease while we are 
trodden in the dirt. The colonists have been branded with the odious 
names of traitors and rebels only for complaining of their grievances. 
How long such treatment will or ought to be borne, is submitted. 


Boston, March 5, 1772. 

Quis talia fando, 

Myrmidonum, Dolopumve, nut duri miles Ulyssei^ 
Temperet a lacrymis. VIRGIL. 

When we turn over the historic page and trace the rise and fall of 
states and empires, the mighty revolutions which have so often varied 
the face of the world strike our minds with solemn surprise, and we 
are naturally led to endeavor to search out the causes of such aston 
ishing changes. 

That man is formed for social life is an observation which, upon our 
first inquiry, presents itself immediately to our view, and our reason 
approves that wise and generous principle which actuated the first 
founders of civil government ; an institution which hath its origin in 
the weakness of individuals, and hath for its end the strength and 
security of all : and so long as the means of effecting this important 
end are thoroughly known, and religiously attended to, government 
is one of the richest blessings to mankind, and ought to be held in the 
highest veneration. 

In young and new-formed communities the grand design of this in 
stitution is most generally understood and the most strictly regarded ; 
the motives which urged to the social compact cannot be at once for 
gotten, and that equality which is remembered to have subsisted so 
lately among them, prevents those who are clothed with authority 
from attempting to invade the freedom of their brethren ; or if such 


an attempt is made, it prevents the community from suffering the 
offender to go unpunished : every member feels it to be his interest 
and knows it to be his duty to preserve inviolate the constitution on 
which the public safety depends, and he is equally ready to assist the 
magistrate in the 2xecution of the laws, and the subject in defence of 
his right ; and so long as this noble attachment to a constitution, 
founded on free and benevolent principles, exists in full vigor, in any 
state, that state must be flourishing and happy. 

It was this noble attachment to a free constitution which raised 
ancient Rome from the smallest beginnings to that bright summit of 
happiness and glory to which she arrived ; and it was the loss of this 
which plunged her from that summit into the black gulf of infamy 
and slavery. It was this attachment which inspired her senators with 
wisdom ; it was this which glowed in th*. 1 breast of her heroes ; it was 
this which guarded her liberties and extended her dominions, gave 
peace at home, and commanded respect abroad ; and when this de 
cayed her magistrates lost their reverence for justice and the laws, 
and degenerated into tyrants and oppressors her senators, forgetful 
of their dignity, and seduced by base corruption, betrayed their 
country her soldiers, regardless of their relation to the community, 
and urged only by the hopes of plunder and rapine, unfeelingly com 
mitted the most flagrant enormities ; and, hired to the trade of death, 
with relentless fury they perpetrated the most cruel murders, whereby 
the streets of imperial Rome were drenched with her noblest blood. 
Thus this empress of the world lost her dominions abroad, and her 
inhabitants, dissolute in their manners, at length became contented 
slaves ; and she stands to this day the scorn and derision of nations, 
and a monument of this eternal truth, ihak public happiness depends on 
a virtuous and unshaken attachment to a free constitution. 

It was this attachment to a constitution, founded on free and benev 
olent principles, which inspired the first settlers of this country they 
saw with grief the daring outrages committed on the free constitution 
of their native land they knew nothing but a civil war could at that 
time restore its pristine purity. So hard was it to resolve to embrue 
their hands in the blood of their brethren, that they chose rather to 
quit their fair possessions and seek another habitation in a distant 
dime. When they came to this new world, which they fairly pur 
chased of the Indian natives, the only rightful proprietors, they culti 
vated the then barren soil by their incessant labor, and defended 
their dear-bought possessions with the fortitude of the Christian and 
the bravery of the hero. 

After various struggles, which, during the tyrannic reigns of the 
house of Stuart, were constantly kept up between right and wrong, 
between liberty and slavery, the connection between Great Britain and 
this colony was settled in the reign of King William and Queen Mary, 
by a compact, the conditions of which were expressed in a charter, by 


which all the liberties and immunities of British subjects were con 
fided to this province, as fully and as absolutely as they possibly 
could be by any human instrument which can be devised. And it is 
undeniably true, that the greatest and most important right of a 
British subject is, that he shall be governed by no laws biit those to which 
he, either in person or by his representatives hath given his consent : 
and this I will venture to assert is the great basis of British freedom ; 
it is interwoven with the Constitution; and whenever this is lost, the 
Constitution must be destroyed. 

The British Constitution (of which ours is- a copy) is a happy com 
pound of the three forms (under some of which all governments may 
be ranged) viz., monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy; of these three 
the British legislature is composed, and without the consent of each 
branch, nothing can carry with it the force of a law ; but when a law 
is to be passed for raising a tax, that law can originate only in the 
democratic branch, which is the House of Commons in Britain, and 
the House of Representatives here. The reason is obvious: they and 
their constituents are to pay much the largest part of it ; but as the 
aristocratic branch, which, in Britain, is the House of Lords, and in 
this province, the Council, are also to pay some part, their consent is 
necessary; and as the monarchic branch, which in Britain is the King, 
and with us, either the King in person, or the Governor whom he shall 
be pleased to appoint to act in his stead, is supposed to have a just 
sense of his own interest, which is that of all the subjects in general, 
his consent is also necessary, and when the consent of these three 
branches is obtained, the taxation is most certainly legal. 

Let us now allow ourselves a few moments to examine the late acts 
of the British Parliament for taxing America. Let us with candor 
judge whether they are constitutionally binding upon us ; if they are, 
in the name of justice let us submit to them, without one murmuring 

First, I would ask whether the members of the British House of 
Commons are the democracy of this province? if they are, they are 
either the people of this province, or are elected by the people of this 
province, to represent them, and have therefore a constitutional right 
to originate a bill for taxing them ; it is most certain they are 
neither ; and therefore nothing done by them can be said to be 
done by the democratic branch of our Constitution. I would next 
ask whether the Lords, who compose the aristocratic branch of the 
Legislature, are peers of America? I never heard it was (even in these 
extraordinary times) so much as pretended, and if they are not, cer 
tainly no act of theirs can be said to be the act of the aristocratic 
branch of our Constitution. The power of the monarchic branch we, 
with pleasure, acknowledge resides in the King, who may act either 
in person or by his representative ; and I freely confess that I can see 
no reason why a proclamation for raising in America issued by the 


King s sole authority would not be equally consisLent with our cwn 
Constitution, and therefore equally binding upon us with the late acts 
of the British Parliament for taxing us ; for it is plain, that if there 
is any validity in those acts, it must arise altogether from the 
monarchical branch of the Legislature ; and I further think that it 
would be at least as equitable ; for I do not conceive it to be 
of the least importance to us by whom our property is taken 
away, so long as it is taken without our consent ; and I am very 
much at a loss to know by what figure of rhetoric, the inhabitants of 
this province can be called free subjects, when they are obliged to 
obey implicitly, such laws as are made for them by men three thou 
sand miles off, whom they know not, and whom they never empower 
ed to act for them, or how they can be said to have property, when a 
body of men, over whom they have not the least control, and who are 
not in any way accountable to them, shall oblige them to deliver up 
part, or the whole of their substance without even asking their con 
sent: and yet whoever pretends that the late acts of the British Parlia 
ment for taxing America ought to be deemed binding upon us, must 
admit at once that we are absolute slaves, and have no property of 
our own; or else that we may be freemen, and at the same time under 
a necessity of obeying the arbitrary commands of those over whom we 
have no control or influence, and that we may have property of our 
own, which is entirely at the disposal of another. Such gross absurdi 
ties, I believe will not be relished in this enlightened age: and it can 
be no matter of wonder that the people quickly perceived, and seri 
ously complained of the inroads which these acts must unavoidably 
make upon their liberty, and of the hazard to which their whole prop 
erty is by therrl exposed; for, if they maybe taxed without their con 
sent, even in the smallest trifle, they may also, without their consent, 
be deprived of every thing they possess, although never so valuable, 
never so dear. Certainly it never entered the hearts of our ancestors, 
that after so many dangers in this then desolate wilderness, their hard- 
earned property should be at the disposal of the British Parliament; 
and as it was soon found that this taxation could not be supported by 
reason and argument, it seemed necessary that one act of oppression 
should be enforced by another, and therefore, contrary to our just 
rights as possessing, or at least having a just title to possess, all the 
liberties and immunities of British subjects, a standing army was es 
tablished among us in time of peace; and evidently for the purpose of 
effecting that, which it was one principal design of the fonnders of the 
constitution to prevent (when they declared a standing army in a time 
of peace to be against law), namely, for the enforcement of obedience 
to acts which, upon fair examination, appeared to be unjust and un 

The ruinous consequences of standing armies to free communities 
may be seen in the histories of Syracuse, Rome, and many other once 


flourishing states: some of which have now scarce a name! their bane 
ful influence is most suddenly felt, when they are placed in populous 
cities; for, by a corruption of morals, the public happiness is imme 
diately affected! and that this is one of the effects of quartering troops 
in a populous city, is a truth, to which many a mourning parent, many 
a lost, despairing child in this metropolis must bear a very melancholy 
testimony. Soldiers are also taught to consider arms as the only ar 
biters by which every dispute is to be decided between contending 
.states ; they are instructed implicitly to obey their commanders, with 
out enquiring into the justice of the cause they are engaged to support ; 
hence it is, that they are ever to be dreaded as the ready engines of 
tyranny and oppression. And it is too observable that they are prone 
to introduce the same mode of decision in the disputes of individuals, 
and from thence have often arisen great animosities between them 
and the inhabitants, who, whilst in a naked, defenceless state, are fre 
quently insulted and abused by an armed soldiery. And this will be 
more especially the case, when the troops are informed that the inten 
tion of their being stationed in any city is to overawe the inhabitants. 
That this was the avowed design of stationing an armed force in this 
town is sufficiently known ; and we, my fellow citizens, have seen, we 
have felt the tragical effects ! The fatal fifik of March, 1770, can never 
be forgotten The horrors of that dreadful night are but too deeply im 
pressed on our Jiearts Language is too feeble to paint the emotion of 
our souls, when our streets were stained with the blood of our breth 
ren when our ears were wounded by the groans of the dying, and our 
eyes were tormented with the sight of the mangled bodies of the dead. 
When our alarmed imagination presented to our view our houses 
wrapt in flames, our children subjected to the barbarous c?. rice of 
the raging soldiery, our beauteous virgins exposed to all tuc inso 
lence of unbridled passion, our virtuous wives, endeared to us by 
every tender tie, falling a sacrifice to worse than brutal violence, and 
perhaps like the famed Lucretia, distracted with anguish and despair, 
ending their wretched lives by their own fair hands. When we be 
held the authors of our distress parading in our streets, or drawn ap 
in a regular battalia, as though in a hostile city, our hearts beat to 
arms ; we snatched our weapons, almost resolved, by one decisive 
stroke, to avenge the death of our slaughtered brethren, and to secure 
from future danger, all that we held most dear : but propitious heaven 
forbade the bloody carnage, and saved the threatened victims of our too 
keen resentment, not by their discipline, not by their regular array, 
no, it was royal George s livery that proved their shield it was that 
which turned the pointed engines of destruction from their breasts. 
The thoughts of vengeance were soon buried in our inbred affection to 
Great Britain, and calm reason dictated a method of removing the 
troops more mild than an immediate resource to the sword. With 
united efforts you urged the immediate departure of the troops from 


the town you urged it, with a resolution which ensured success you 
obtained your wishes, and the removal of the troops was effected, 
without one drop of their blood being shed by the inhabitants. 

The immediate actors in the tragedy of that night were surrendered 
to justice. It is not mine to say how far they were guilty ? they have 
been tried by the country and acquitted of murder ! and they are not 
to be again arraigned at an earthly bar ; but, surely the men who have 
promiscuously scattered death amidst the innocent inhabitants of a 
populous city, ought to see well to it that they be prepared to stand 
at the bar of an omniscient judge ! and all who contrived or encour 
aged the stationing troops in this place have reasons of eternal import 
ance, to reflect with deep contrition, on their base designs, and num 
bly to repent of their impious machinations. 

The infatuation which hath seemed, for a number of years, to pre 
vail in the British councils, with regard to us, is truly astonishing ! 
what can be proposed by the repeated attacks made upon our freedom, 
I really cannot surmise ; even leaving justice and humanity out of 
question. I do not know one single advantage which can arise to the 
British nation, from our being enslaved: I know not of any gains, 
which can be wrung from us by oppression, which they may not ob 
tain from us by our own consent, in the smooth channel of commerce : 
we wish the wealth and prosperity of Britain ; we contribute largely 
to both. Doth what we contribute lose all its Value, because it is done 
voluntarily ? the amazing increase of riches to Britain, the great 
rise of the value of her lands, the flourishing state of her navy, are 
striking proofs of the advantages derived to her from her commerce 
with the colonies; and it is our earnest desire that she may still con 
tinue to enjoy the same emoluments, until her streets are paved with 
American gold; only let us have the pleasure of calling it our own, 
while it is in our own hands; but this it seems is too great a favor we 
are to be governed by the absolute command of others; our property is 
to be taken aiuay without our consent if we complain, our complaints 
are treated with contempt; if we assert our rights, that assertion is 
deemed insolence; if we humbly offer to submit the matter to the 
impartial decision of reason, the sword is judged the most proper 
argument to silence our murmurs! but this cannot long be the case 
surely the British nation will not suffer the reputation of their justice 
and their honor, to be thus sported away by a capricious ministry; no, 
they will in a short time open their eyes to their true interest: they 
nourish in their own breasts, a noble love of liberty; they hold her 
dear, and they know that all who have once possessed her charms, had 
rather die than suffer her to be torn from their embraces they are also 
sensible that Britain is so deeply interested in the prosperity of the 
colonies that she must eventually feel every wound given to their free 
dom; they cannot be ignorant that more dependence may be placed on 
the affections of a brother, than on the forced service of a slave; they 


must approve your efforts for the preservation of your rights; from a 
sympathy of soul they must pray for your success: and I doubt not 
but they will, ere long, exert themselves effectually, to redress your 
grievances. Even the dissolute reign of king Charles II. when the 
House of Commons impeached the Earl of Clarendon of high treason, 
the first article on which they founded their accusation was that " lie 
had designed a standing army to be raised, and to govern tfu kingdom 
thereby" And the eighth article was, that " he had introduced an arbi 
trary government info His Majesty s plantatioti." A terrifying example 
to those who are no\v forging chains for this country. 

You have, my friends and countrymen, frustrated the designs of 
your enemies, by your unanimity and fortitude: it was your union and 
determined spirit which expelled those troops, who polluted your 
streets with innocent blood. You have appointed this anniversary as 
a standard memorial of the bloody consequences of placing an armed force 
in a populous city, and of your deliverance from the dangers which then 
seemed to hang over your heads; and I am confident that you never 
will betray the least want of spirit when called upon to guard your 
freedom. None but they who set a just value upon the blessings of 
liberty are worthy to enjoy her your illustrious fathers were her 
zealous votaries when the blasting frowns of tyranny drove her from 
public view, they clasped her in their arms, they cherished her in their 
generous bosoms, they brought her safe over the rough ocean, and 
fixed her seat in this then dreary wilderness; they nursed her infant 
age with the most tender care; for her sake they patiently bore the 
severest hardships; for her support, they underwent the most rugged 
toils; in her defence they boldly encountered the most alarming dan 
gers: neither the ravenous beasts that ranged the woods for prey, nor 
the more furious savages of the wilderness, could damp their ardor ! 
Whilst with one hand they broke the stubborn glebe, with the other 
they grasped their weapons, ever ready to protect her fiom danger. 
No sacrifice, not even their own blood", was esteemed loo rich a liba 
tion for her altar! God prospered their valor: they preserved her 
brilliancy unsullied; they enjoyed her whilst they lived, and dying, 
bequeathed the dear inheritance to your care. And as they left you 
this glorious legacy, they have undoubtedly transmitted to you some 
portion of their noble spirit, to inspire you with virtue to merit her, 
and courage to preserve her: you surely cannot, with such examples 
before your eyes, as every page of the history of this country affords, 
suffer your liberties to be ravished from you by lawless force, or 
cajoled away by flattery and fraud. 

The voice of your fathers blood cries to you from the ground, my 
sons scorn to be slaves! in vain we met the frowns of tyrants in vain 
we crossed the boiste.rous ocean, found a new world, and prepared it 
for the happy residence of liberty in vain we toiled in vain we fought 
we bled in vain, if you, our offspring, want valor to rspel the assaults 


of her invaders! Stain not the glory of your worthy ancestors, 

but like them resolve never to part with your birth-right; be wise in 
your deliberations, and determined in your exertions for the preserva 
tion of your liberties. Follow not the dictates of passion, but enlist 
yourselves under the sacred banner of reason; use every method in 
your power to secure your rights; at least prevent the curses of pos 
terity from being heaped upon your memories. 

If you, with united zeal and fortitude, oppose the torrent of oppres 
sion; if you feel the true fire of patriotism burning in your breasts; if 
you, from your souls, despise the most gaudy dress that slavery can 
wear; if you really prefer the lonely cottage (whilst blest with liberty) 
to gilded palaces, surrounded with the ensigns of slavery, you may 
have the fullest assurance that tyranny, with her whole accursed train, 
will hide their hideous heads in confusion, shame, and despair if you 
perform your part, you must have the strongest confidence that the 
same Almighty Being who protected your pious and venerable fore 
fathers who enabled them to turn a barren wilderness into a fruitful 
field, who so often made bare his arm for their salvation, will still be 
mindful of you, their offspring. 

May this Almighty Being graciously preside in r.ll our councils. 
May he direct us to such measures as he himself shall approve, and be 
pleased to bless. May we ever be a people favored of God. May our 
land be a land of liberty, the seat of virtue, the asylum of the oppressed, 
a name and a praise in the whole earth, until the last shock of time 
shall bury the empires of the world in one common undistinguished 



Philadelphia^ August i, 1774. 

The authority of Parliament has within these few years been a 
question much agitated; and great difficulty, we understand has oc 
curred, in tracing the line between the rights of the mother country 
and those of the colonies. The modern doctrine of the former is in 
deed truly remarkable; for though it points out, what are not our 
rights, yet we can never learn from it, what are our rights. As, 
for example, Great-Britain claims a right to take away nine-tenths 
of our estates have we a right to the remaining tenth? No. To 


say we have, is a "traitorous" position, denying her supreme legis- 
lacure. So far from having prupeity, according to these late found 
novels, we are ourselves a propcriy. 

We pretend not to any considerable share of learning; but, thanks 
be to divine goodness, common sense, experience, and some acquaint 
ance with the constitution, teach us a f<j,v salutary truths on this im 
portant subject. 

Whatever difficulty may occur in tracing the line, yet we contend, 
that by the laws of God, and by the laws of the constitution, a line 
there must be, beyond which her authority cannot extend. For ail 
these laws are " grounded on reason, full of justice, and true equity," 
mild, and calculated to promote the freedom and welfare of men. 
These objects never can be attained by abolishing every restriction, 
on the part of the governors, and extinguishing every right, on the 
part of the governed. 

Suppose it be allowed, that the line is not expressly drawn, is it 
thence to be concluded, there is no implied line ? No English lawyer, 
we presume, will venture to mak e the bold assertion. " The King 
may reject what bills, may make what treaties, may coin what money, 
may create what peers, and may pardon what offences, he pleases." 
But is his prerogative respecting these branches of it, unlimited? By 
no means. The words following those next above quoted from the 
"commentaries on the laws of England," are "unless where the 
constitution hath expressly, or by evident consequence, laid down 
some exception or boundary, declaring, that thus far the prerogative 
shall go and no farther." There are "some boundaries" then, be 
sides the "express exceptions;" and according to the strong expres 
sion here used, "the constitution declares they are." What "evident 
consequence" forms those "boundaries?" 

The happiness of the people is the end, and, if the term is allowa 
ble, we would call it the body of the constitution. Freedom is the 
spirit or soul. As the soul, speaking of nature, has a right to prevent 
or relieve, if it can, any mischief to the body of the individual, and lo 
keep it in the best health; so the soul, speaking of the constitution, 
has a right to prevent, or relieve, any mischief to the body of the 
society, and to keep that in the best health. The "evident conse 
quence" mentioned, must mean a tendency to injure this health, that 
is, to diminish the happiness of the people or it must mean nothing. 
If therefore, the constitution "declares by evident consequence;" that 
a tendency to diminish the happiness of the people, is a proof, that 
power exceeds a "boundary," beyond which it ought not to "go;" 
the matter is brought to this single point, whether taking our money 
from us without our consent, depriving us o/ trial by jury, changing 
constitutions of government, and abolishing the privilege of the writ 
of habeas corpus, by seizing and carrying us to England, have not a 
greater tendency to diminish our happiness, than any enormities a 


King can commit under pretence of prerogative, can have to diminish 
the happiness of the subjects in England. To come to a decision 
upon this point, no long time need be required. To make this com 
parison, is stating the claim of Parliament in the most favorable light: 
For it puts the assumed power of Parliament, to do, "in all cases 
whatsoever," what they p.ease, upon the same footing with the ac 
knowledged power of the King, " to make what peers pardon what 
offences, etc., he pleases." But in this light, that power is not entitled 
to be viewed. Such is the wisdom of the English constitution, that it 
" declares" the King may transgress a " boundary laid down by evi 
dent consequence," even by using the power with which he is expressly 
vested by the constitution, in doing those very acts which he is ex 
pressly trusted by the constitution to do as by creating too many or 
improper persons, peers; or by pardoning too many or too great of 
fences, etc. But has the constitution of England expressly "de 
clared," that the Parliament of Great-Britain may take away the 
money of English colonists without their consent, and deprive them 
of trial by jury, etc.? It cannot be pretended. True it is, that it has 
been solemnly declared by Parliament, that Parliament has such a 
power. But that declaraction leaves the point just as it was before: 
For if Parliament had not the power before, the declaration could not 
give it. Indeed if Parliament is really "omnipotent," that power is 
just and constitutional. We further observe, that no English lawyer, 
as we remember, has pointed out precisely the line beyond which, if 
a king, shall "go," resistance becomes lawful. General terms have 
been used. The learned author of those commentaries, that notwith 
standing some human frailties, do him so much honor, has thought 
proper, when treating of this subject, to point out the " precedent" of 
the revolution, as fixing the line. We would not venture any reflexion 
on so great a man. It may not become us. Nor can we be provoked 
by his expressions concerning colonists; because they perhaps con 
tain his real, though hasty sentiments. Surely, it was not his inten 
tion to condemn those excellent men, who casting every tender 
consideration behind them, nobly presented themselves against the 
tyranny of the unfortunate and misguided Charles s reign; those men, 
whom the House of Commons, even after the restoration, would not 
suffer to be censured. 

We are sensible of the objection that may be made, as to drawing a 
line between rights on each side, and the case of a plain violation of 
rights. We think it not material. Circumstances have actually pro 
duced, and may again produce this question What conduct of a 
prince renders resistance lawful ? James the second and his father 
violated express rights of their subjects, by doing what their own ex 
press rights gave them no title to do, and by raising money, and 
levying troops, without consent of Parliament. It is not even settled, 
what violation of those will justify resistance. But may not some 


future prince confining himself to the exercise of his own express 
rights, such as have been mentioned, act in a manner, that will be a 
transgression of a " boundary" laid down by " evident consequence," 
the " constitution declaring he should go no further?" May not this 
exercise of these his express rights, be so far extended, as to introduce 
universal confusion and subversion of the ends of government? The 
whole may be oppressive, and yet any single instance legal. The 
cases may be improbable; but we have seen and now feel events once 
as little expected. Is it not possible, that one of these cases may 
happen ? If it does, has the constitution expressly drawn a line, be 
yond which resistance becomes lawful? It has not. But it may be 
said, a king cannot arm against his subjects he cannot raise money, 
without consent of Parliament. This is the constitutional check upon 
him. If he should, it would be a violation of their express rights. If 
their purses are shut, his power shrinks. True. Unhappy colonists! 
Our money may be taken from us and standing armies established 
over us, without our consent every expressly declared constitutional 
check dissolve], and the modes of opposition for relief so contracted, 
as to leave us only the miserable alternative of supplication or violence. 
And these, it seems, are the liberties of Americans. Because the 
constitution has not "expressly declared" the line between the rights 
of the mother country and those of her colonists, therefore, the latter 
have no rights. A logic, equally edifying to the heads and hearts of 
men of sense and humanity. 

We assert, a line there must be, and shall no w proceed with great 
deference to the judgment of others, to trace that line, according 
to the ideas we entertain: And it is with satisfaction we can say, 
that the records, statutes, law-books, and most approved writers of 
our mother country, those "dead but most faithful counsellors" (as 
Sir Edward Coke calls them) "who cannot be daunted by fear, nor 
muzzled by affection, reward, or hope of preferment, and therefore 
may safely be believed," confirm the principles we maintain. 

Liberty, life, or property, can, with no consistency of words or 
ideas, be termed a right of the possessors, while others have a right 
of taking them away at pleasure. The most distinguished authors, 
that have written on government, declare it to be " instituted for the 
benefit of the people; and that it never will have this tendency, where 
it is unlimited." Even conquest itself is held not to destroy all the 
rights of the conquered. Such is the merciful reverence judged by the 
best and wisest men to be due to human nature, and frequently ob 
served even by conquerers themselves. 

In fine, a power of government, in its nature tending to the misery 
of the_ people, as a power that is unlimited, or in other words, a power 
in which the people have no share, is proved to be, by reason and the 
experience of all ages and countries, cannot be a rightful or legal 
power: For, as an excellent Bishop of the Church of England argues, 


"the ends of government cannot be answered by a total dissolution 
of all happiness at present, and of all hopes for the future." 

The just inference therefore from these premises would be an ex 
clusion of any power of Parliament over these colonies, rather than 
the admission of an unbounded power. 

We well know, that the colonists are charged by many persons in 
Great-Britain, with attempting to obtain such an exclusion and a total 
independence of her. As well w r e know the accusation to be utterly 
false. We are become criminal in the sight of such persons, by re 
fusing to be guilty of the highest crime against ourselves and our 
posterity. Nohtnnts leges Anglia mutari. This is the rebellion with 
which we are stigmatized. [We have committed the like offence, 
that was objected by the polite and humane Fimbria against a rude 
senator of his time. We have " disrespectfully refused to receive 
the whole weapon into our body." We could not do it. and live. 
But that must be acknowledged to be a poor excuse, equally in 
consistent with good breeding and the supreme legislature of Great- 

For these ten years past we have been incessantly attacked. Hard 
is our fate, when, to escape the character of rebels, we must be degraded 
into that of slaves : as if there was no medium, between the two ex 
tremes of anarchy and despotism, where innocence and freedom could 
find repose and safety. 

Why should we be exhibited to mankind, as a people adjudged by 
Parliament unworthy of freedom? The thought alone is insupporta 
ble. Even those unhappy persons, who have had the misfortune of 
being born under the yoke of bondage, imposed by the cruel laws, if 
they may be called laws, of the land, where they received their birth, 
no sooner breathe the air of England, though they touch her shore only 
by accident, than they instantly become freemen. Strange contradic 
tion. The same kingdom at the same time, the asylum and the bane 
of liberty. 

To return to the charge against xis, we can safely appeal to that 
Being, from whom no thought can be concealed, that our warmest wish 
and utmost ambition is, that we and our posterity may ever remain sub 
ordinate to, and dependent upon our parent state. This submission 
our reason approves, our affection dictates, our duty commands, and 
our interest enforces. 

If thi submission indeed implies a dissolution of our constitution, 
and a renunciation of our liberty, we should be unworthy of our relation 
to her, if we should not frankly declare, that we regard it with horror; 
and every true Englishman will applaud this just distinction and candid 
declaration. [Our defence necessarily touches chords in unison with 
the fibres of his honest heart. They must vibrate in sympathetic tones. 
If we, his kindred, should be base enough to promise the humiliating 
subjection, he could not believe us. We should suffer all the infamy of 


the engagement, without finding the benefit expected from being thought 
as contemptible as we should undertake to be.] 

But this submission implies not such insupportable evils: and our 
amazement is inexpressible, when we consider the gradual increase of 
these colonies, from their slender beginnings in the last century to their 
late flourishing condition, and how prodigiously, since their settlement, 
our parent state has advanced in wealth, force and influence, till she is 
become the first power on the sea, and the envy of the world that these 
our better days should not strike conviction into every mind, that the 
freedom and happiness of the colonists are not consistent with her 
authority and prosperity. 

The experience of more than one hundred years will surely be 
deemed, by wise men, to have some weight in the scale of evidence to 
support our opinion. We might justly ask of her, why we are not per 
mitted to go on, as we have been used to do since our existence, con 
ferring mutual benefits, thereby strengthening each other, more and 
more discovering the reciprocal advantages of our connection, and 
daily cultivating affections, encouraged by those advantages? 

[What unknown offences have we committed against her within these 
ten years, to provoke such an unexampled change in her conduct towards 
us? In the last war, she acknowledged us repeatedly, to be faithful, 
dutiful, zealous and useful in her cause. Is it criminal in us, that our 
iiumbers, by the favor of Divine Providence have greatly increased? 
That the poor choose to fly from their native countries in Europe to 
this continent? Or, that we have so much improved these woods, that 
if we cau be forced into an unsuccessful resistance, avarice itself might 
be satiated with our forfeitures ? 

It cannot with truth be urged, that projects of innovation have com 
menced with us. Facts and their dates prove the contrary. Not a dis 
turbance has happened on any part of this continent, but in consequence 
of some immediately preceding provocation. 

To what purpose ? The charge of our affecting one great, or many 
small republics, must appear as contemptible a madness to her, as it 
does to us. Divided as we are into many provinces, and incapable of 
union, except against a common danger, she knew, that we could no: 
think of embarking our treasures of tranquility and liberty, on an 
ocean of blood, in a wandering expedition to some Utopian port. 
The history of mankind, frcm the remotest antiquity, furnishes not a 
single instance of a people consisting of husbandmen and merchants, 
voluntarily engaging in such a frenzy of ambition. No. Our highest 
pride and glory has been, with humble unsuspecting duty to labor in 
contributing to elevate her to that exalted station, she holds among 
the nations of the earth, and which, we still ardently desire and pray, 
she may hold, with fresh accessions of fame and prosperity, till time 
shall be no more. 

These being our sentiments, and, we are fully convinced, the senti* 


ments of our brethren throughout the colonies, with unspeakable af 
fliction, we find ourselves obliged to oppose that system of dominion 
over us, arising from counsels pernicious both to our parent and her 
children to strive, if it be possible, to close the breaches made in cur 
former concord and stop the sources of future animosities. And 
may God Almighty, who delights in the titles of just and merciful, in 
cline the hearts of all parties to that equitable and benevolent temper, 
which is necessary solidly to establish peace and harmony, in the 
place of confusion and dissension. 

The legislative authority claimed by Parliament over these colonies 
consists of two heads first, a general power of internal legislation ; 
and secondly, a power of regulating our trade: both she contends are 
unlimited. Under the first, may be included among other powers, 
those of forbidding us to worship our Creator in the manner we think 
most acceptable to him imposing taxes on us collecting them by 
their own officers enforcing the collection by admiralty courts or 
courts martial abolishing trials by jury establishing a standing- 
army among us in time of peace, without consent of our Assemblies 
paying them with our money seizing our young men for recruits 
changing constitutions of government stopping the press declaring 
any action, even a meeting of the smallest number, to consider of 
peaceable modes to obtain redress of grievances high treason taking 
colonists to Great Britain to be tried exempting "murderers" of 
colonists from punishment, by carrying them to England, to answer 
indictments found in the colonies shutting up our ports pro 
hibiting us from slitting iron to build our houses making hats to 
cover our heads, or clothing to cover the rest of our bodies, etc. 

In our provincial legislatures, the best judges in all cases what suits 
us founded on the immutable and unalienable rights of human 
nature, the principles of the constitution, and charters and grams 
made by the Crown at periods, when the power of making them was 
universally acknowledged by the parent state, a power since frequently 
recognized by her subject to the control of the Crown as by law es 
tablished, is vested the exclusive right of internal legislation. 

Such a right vested in Parliament, would place us exactly in the 
same situation, the people of Great Britain would have been reduced 
to, had James the first and his family succeeded in their scheme of 
arbitrary power. Changing the word Stuarts for Parliament, and 
Britons for Americans, the arguments of the illustrious patriots of 
those times, to whose virtues their descendants owe every blessing 
they now enjoy, apply with inexpressible force and appositeness, in 
maintenance of our cause, and in refutation of the pretension set up 
by their too forgetful posterity, over their unhappy colonists. Con, 
fiding in the undeniable truth of this single position, that, " to live by 
one man s will, became the cause of all men s misery," they generously 
suffered. And the worthy bishop before mentioned, who, for strenu-, 


ousiy asserting the principles of the revolution, received the unusual 
honor of being recommended by a House of Commons to the sovereign 
for perferment, has justly observed, that " misery is the same whether 
it comes from the hands of many or of one." 

" It could not appear tolerable to him (meaning Mr. Hooker, author 
of the ecclesiastical policy) to lodge in the governors of any society an 
unlimited authority, to annul and alter the constitution of the govern 
ment, as they should see fit, and to leave to the governed the privilege 
only of absolute subjection in all such alterations; or to use the Par 
liamentary phrase, " in all cases whatsoever." 

From what source can Great Britain derive a single reason to sup- 
port her claim to such an enormous power? That it is consistent 
with the laws of nature, no reasonable man will pretend. That it 
contradicts the precepts of Christianity, is evident. For she strives to 
force upon us, terms, which she would judge to be intolerably severe 
and cruel, if imposed on herself. "Virtual representation," is too 
ridiculous to be regarded. The necessity of a supreme sovereign leg 
islature internally superintending the whole empire, is a notion equally 
unjust and dangerous. "The pretence (says Mr. Justice Blackstone 
speaking of James the first s reign) for which arbitrary measures AVO.S 
no other than the tyrant s plea of the necessity of unlimited powers, 
in works of evident utility to the public, the supreme reason above all 
reasons, which is the salvation of the king s lands and people." This 
was not the doctrine of James only. His son unhappily inherited it 
from him. On this flimsy foundation was built the claim of ship 
money, etc. Nor were there wanting men, v/ho could argue, from the 
courtly text, that Parliaments were too stupid or too factious to grant 
money to the Crown, when it was their interest and their duty to do 
so. This argument however, was fully refuted, and slept above a 
century in proper contempt, till the posterity of those, who had over 
thrown it, thought fit to revive the exploded absurdity. Trifling as 
the pretence was, yet it might much more properly be urged in favor 
of a single person, than of a multitude. The counsels of a monarch 
may be more secret. His measures more quick. In passing an act 
of Parliament for all the colonies, as many men are consulted, if not 
more, than need be consulted, in obtaining the assent of every legisla 
ture on the continent. If it is a good argument for Parliament, it is a 
better against them. It therefore proves nothing but its own futility. 
The suppose 1 advantages of such a power, could never be attained but 
by the destruction of real benefits, evidenced by facts to exist without it. 
_Ihe Swiss Cantons, and the United Provinces, are combinations of 
independent states. The voice of each must be given. The instance 
of these colonies may be added: For stating the case, that no act of 
internal legislation over them had ever been passed by Great Britain, 
her wisest statesmen would be perplexed to show, that she or the 
colonies would have been less flourishing than they now are. What 


benefits such a power may produce hereafter, time will discover. But 
the colonies are not dependent on Great Britain, it is said, if she has 
not a supreme unlimited legislature over them. " I would ask these 
loyal subjects of the king (says the author of a celebrated invective 
against us) what king it is, they profess themselves to be loyal subjects 
of ? It cannot be his present most gracious majesty, George the 
third, king of Great Britain, for his title is founded on an act of Par 
liament, and they will not surely acknowledge that Parliament can 
give them a king, which is of all others, the highest act of sovereignty, 
when they deny it to have power to tax or bind them in any other 
case; and I do not recollect, that there is any act of Assembly, in any 
of the colonies for settling the crown upon king William or the illus 
trious House of Hanover." " Curious reasoning this." It is to be 
wished the gentleman had "recollected" that without any such "act 
of Assembly" none of the colonists ever rebelled. What act of Parlia 
ment is here meant? Surely not the nth of Henry the seventh, 
chapter ist, in favor of a king de facto. Probably the I2th and I3th 
of William the 3d chapter, the 2d, "for the further limitation of the 
Crown, etc." is intended. And, is it imagined that the words " domin 
ions and territories thereunto belonging" in that statute, form his 
Majesty s title to the sovereignty of these colonies ? The omission of 
them might have looked odd; but what force is added by their inser 
tion? The settlement of the crown of England includes the settle 
ment of the sovereignty of the colonies. King William is mentioned 
and will the gentleman venture to say, that William was not king of 
England and sovereign of these colonies, before his title was " de 
clared" or "recognized" by "an act of Parliament?" The gentleman 
slurs over this case. His zeal for the " illustrious House of Hanover" 
would be little gratified, by inferring, that because the two houses with 
the consent of the nation, made a king, therefore the two houses can 
make laws. Yet that conclusion would be as justifiable as this that 
the assent of the colonies to an election of a king by the two houses, 
or to the limitation of the Crown by act of Parliament, proves a right 
in Parliament to bind the colonies by statutes " in all cases whatso 
ever." In such great points, the conduct of a people is influenced 
solely by a regard for their freedom and happiness. The colonies 
have no other head than the king of England. The person who by 
the laws of that realm, is king of that realm, is our king. 

A dependence on the Crown and Parliament of Great Britain, is a 
novelty a dreadful novelty. It may be compared to the engine in 
vented by the Greeks for the destruction of Troy. It is full of armed 
enemies, and the walls of the constitution must be thrown down, be 
fore it can be introduced among us. 

When it is considered that the king as king of England has a power 
i-n making laws the power of executing them of finally determining 
on appeals of calling upon us for supplies in times of war or any 


emergency that every branch of the prerogative binds us, as the sub 
jects are bound thereby in England and that all our intercourse with 
foreigners is regulated by Parliament. Colonists may " surely" be 
acknowledged to speak with truth, and precision, in answer to the 
" elegantly" expressed question " What king it is" etc. by saying 
that his most gracious majesty George the third" is the king of 
England, and therefore, "the king" they profess themselves to be 
loyal subjects of? 

We are aware of the objection, that, " if the king of England is 
therefore king of the colonies, they are subject to the general legisla 
tive authority of that kingdom." The premises by no means warrant 
this conclusion. It is built on a mere supposition, that, the colonies 
are thereby acknowledged ,to be within the realm, and on an incanta 
tion expected to be wrought by some magic force in those words. To 
be subordinately connected with England, the colonies have con 
tracted. To be subject to the general legislative authority of that 
kingdom, they never contracted. Such a power as may be necessary 
to preserve this connection she has. The authority of the sovereign, 
and the authority of controlling our intercourse with foreign nations 
form that power. Such a power leaves the colonies free. But a 
general legislative power, is not a power to preserve that connection, 
but to distress and enslave them. If the first power cannot subsist, 
without the last, she has no right even to the first the colonies were 
deceived in their contract and the power must be unjust and illegal; 
for God has given to them a better right to preserve their liberty, than 
to her to destroy it. In other words, supposing, king, lords and 
commons acting in Parliament, constitute a sovereignty over the 
colonies, is that sovereignty constitutionally absolute or limited ? 
That states without freedom, should by principle grow out of a free 
state, is as impossible, as that sparrows should be produced from 
the eggs of an eagle. The sovereignty over the colonies, must be 
limited. Hesiod long since said, " half is better than the whole;" and 
the saying never was more justly applicable, than on the present oc 
casion. Had the unhappy Charles remembered and regarded it, his 
private virtues might long have adorned a throne, from which his 
public measures precipitated him in blood. To argue on this subject 
from other instances of parliamentary power, is shifting the ground. 
The connexion of the colonies with England, is a point of an unprec 
edented and delicate nature. It can be compared to no other case; 
and to receive a just determination, it must be considered with refer 
ence to its own peculiar circumstances. The common law extends 
to colonies; yet Mr. Justice Blackstone says, " such parts of the law 
as are neither necessary nor convenient for them, as the jurisdiction 
of the spiritual courts, etc. are therefore not in force. If even the 
common law, in force within the realm of England when the colonists 
quitted it, is thus abridged by the peculiar circumstances of colonies, 


at least equally just, and constitutional is it, that the power of making 
new laws within the realm of England, should be abridged with re 
spect to colonies, by those peculiar circumstances. 

The laws of England with respect to prerogative, and in other in 
stances, have accommodated themselves, without alteration by statutes 
to a change of circumstances, the welfare of the people so requiring. 
A regard for that grand object perpetually animates the constitution, 
and regulates all its movements unless unnatural obstructions inter 

" Spiritus intus a/if, totamqiie infusa perartus 
" Mcns agitat molcm, 6 magno sc corpore miscet" 

Another argument for the extravagant power of internal legislation 
over us remains. It has been urged with great warmth against us, 
that " precedents" show this power is rightfully vested in Parliament. 

Submission to unjust sentences proves not a right to pass them. 
Carelessness or regard for the peace and welfare of the community, 
may cause the submission. Submission may sometimes be a less evil 
than opposition, and therefore a duty. In such cases, it is a submis 
sion to the divine authority, which forbids us to injure our country; 
not to the assumed authority, on which the unjust sentences were 
founded. But when submission becomes inconsistent with and de 
structive of the public good, the same veneration for and duty to the 
divine authority, commands us to oppose. The all wise Creator of 
man impressed certain laws on his nature. A desire of happiness, 
and of society, are two of those laws. They were not intended to de 
stroy, but to support each other. Man has therefore a right to pro 
mote the best union of both, in order to enjoy both in the highest 
degree. Thus, while this right is properly exercised, desires, that 
seem selfish, by a happy combination, produce the welfare of others. 
" This is removing submission from a foundation unable to support 
it, and injurious to the honor of God, and fixing it upon much firmer 

No sensible or good man ever suspected Mr. Hooker of being a 
weak or factious person, "yet he plainly enough teacheth, that a 
society upon experience of universal evil, have a right to try by 
another form to answer more effectually the ends of government" 
And Mr. Hoadley asks " Would the ends of government be de 
stroyed should the miserable condition of the people of France, which 
hath proceeded from the king s being absolute, awaken the thoughts 
of the wisest heads amongst them; and move them all to exert them 
selves, so as that those ends should be better answered for the time to 
come ?" 

What mind can relish the hardy proposition, that because precedents 
have been introduced by the inattention or timidity of some, and the 
cunning or violence of others, therefore the latter have a right to 


make the former miserable that is, that precedents that ought never 
to have been set, yet being set, repeal the internal laws of natural 
justice, humanity and equity. 

The argument from precedents begins unluckily for its advocates. 
The first produced against us by the gentleman before mentioned, was 
an act passed by the Commonwealth Parliament in 1650 to "punish" 
Virginia, Barbados, Antigua, and Bermudas, for their fidelity to 
Charles the Second. So ancient is the right of Parliament to " pun 
ish" colonists for doing their duty. But the Parliament had before 
overturned church and throne, so that there is an older " precedent" 
set against these. 

That Parliament sat amidst the ruins that surrounded it, fiercer than 
Marius among those of Carthage. Brutal power became an irresisti 
ble argument of boundless right. What the style of an Aristotle 
could not prove, the point of a Cromwell s sword sufficiently demon 
strated. Innocence and justice sighed and submitted What more 
could they do ? The restoration took place, and a legal Parliament 
would not doubt but it had as extensive a right as an illegal one. 
The revolution succeeded, and with it methods for blending together 
the powers of king and people in a manner before unknown. A new 
political alembic was fixed on the great principle of resistance, and in 
it, severe experiments were to be made on every other principle of the 
constitution. How the boldness of ministers and contempt of the 
people have increased since that period, not a man in the least ac 
quainted with English history can be ignorant. The colonies were in 
a state of infancy still in a state of childhood. Not a single statute 
concerning them is recollected to have been passed before the revolu 
tion, but such as related to the regulation of trade. " Precedents" 
were afterwards made, that, when they grew up, the authority of a 
master might succeed that of a parent. 

Precedents, it is apprehended, are no otherwise regarded in the 
English laws than as they establish certainty for the benefit of the 
people according to the maxim "miserable is the servitude when 
the laws are uncertain." Precedents militating against the welfare or 
happiness of a people, are inconsistent with the grand original prin 
ciple on which they ought to be founded. Their supposed sanction 
increases in proportion to the repetitions of injustice. They must be 
void. In subjects of dispute between man and man, precedents may 
be of use, though not founded on the best reason. They cause a cer 
tainty, and all may govern themselves accordingly. If they take from 
an individual one day, they may give to him the next. But precedents 
to overthrow principles, to justify the perpetual oppression of all, and 
to impair the power of the Constitution, though a cloud of them ap 
pear, have no more force than the volumes of dust that surround a 
triumphal car. They may obscure it: They cannot stop it. What 
would the liberties of the people of England have been at this time if 
A. P. 3. 


precedents could have made laws inconsistent with the constitution ? 
Precedents tending to make men unhappy, can with propriety of 
character be quoted only by those beings, to whom the misery of men 
is a delight. 

" If the usage had been immemorial and uniform, and ten thousand 
instances could have been produced, it would not have been sufficient; 
because the practice must likewise be agreeable to the principles of 
tthe law, in order to be good: whereas this is a practice inconsistent 
with, and in direct opposition to the first and clearest principles of the 
law to those feelings of humanity, out of which mankind will not be 
reasoned, when power advances with gigantic strides threatening dis 
solution to a state to those inherent though latent powers of society, 
which no climate, no time, no constitution, no contract, can ever 
destroy or diminish." 

A parliamentary power of internal legislation over these colonies, 
appears, therefore, to us equally contradictory to humanity and the 
Constitution, and illegal. 

As to the second head, a power of regulating our trade, our opinion 
is that it is legally vested in Parliament, not as a supreme legislature 
over these colonies, but as the supreme legislature and full representa 
tive of the parent state, and the only judge between her and her 
children in commercial interests which the nature of the case in the 
progress of their growth admitted. It has been urged, with great 
vehemence against us, and seems to be thought their fort by our 
adversaries, "that a power of regulation is a power of legislation, and 
a power of legislation, if constitutional, must be universal and supreme 
in the utmost sense of the words. It is therefore concluded that the 
colonists, by acknowledging the power of regulation, have acknowl 
edged every other power." On this objection we observe that, accord 
ing to a maxim of law, " it is deceitful and dangerous to deal in 
general propositions." The freedom and happiness of states depend 
not on artful arguments, but on a few plain principles. The plausible 
appearance of the objection consists in a confused comprehension of 
several points, entirely distinct in their nature, and leading to conse- 
quences directly opposite to each other. There was a time when 
England had no colonies. Trade was the object she attended to in 
encouraging them. A love of freedom was manifestly the chief 
motive of the adventurers. The connection of colonies with their 
parent state may be called a new object of the English laws. That 
her right extinguishes all their rights rights essential to freedom, and 
which they would have enjoyed, by remaining in their parent state 
is offensive to reason, humanity, and the Constitution of that State. 
Colonies could not have been planted on these terms. What English 
man, but an idiot, would have become a colonist on these conditions ? 
to mention no more particulars, " That every shilling he gained might 
rightfully be taken from him trial by jury abolished the building 


houses or making cloths, with the materials found or raised in the 
colonies prohibited and armed men set -over him to govern him in 
every action ?" 

Had these provinces never been settled had" all the inhabitants of 
them now living been born in England, and resident there, they would 
now enjoy the rights of Englishmen, that is, they would be free in 
that kingdom. We claim, in the colonies, these and no other rights. 
There no other kingdom or state interferes. But their trade, however 
important it may be, as the affairs of mankind are circumstanced, 
turns on other principles. All the power of Parliament cannot regu 
late that at their pleasure. It must be regulated, not by Parliament 
alone, but by treaties and alliances formed by the King without the 
consent of the nation, with other states and kingdoms. The freedom 
of a people consists in being governed by laws, in which no alteration 
can be made, without their consent. Yet the wholesome force of 
these laws is confined to the limits of their own country. That is, a 
supreme legislature to a people, which acts internally over that 
people, and inevitably implies personal assent, representation, or 
slavery. When an universal empire is established, and not till then, 
can regulations of trade properly be called acts of supreme legislature. 
It seems, from many authorities, as if almost the whole power of 
regulating the trade of England was originally vested in the Crown. 
One restriction appears to have been that no duty could be 
imposed without the consent of Parliament. Trade was little re 
garded by our war-like ancestors. As commerce became of more 
importance, duties and severities were judged necessary additions 
to its first simple state. Parliament more and more interfered. 
The Constitution was always free, but not always exactly in the 
same manner. " By the Feodal law, all navigable rivers ami 
havens were computed among the Regalia, and were subject to 
the sovereign of the state. And in England it hath always been 
held that the King is lord of the whole shore, and particularly is 
guardian of the ports and havens, which are the inlets and gates cf 
the realm; and, therefore, so early as the reign of king John, we find 
ships seized by the king s officers, for putting in at a place that was 
not a legal port. These legal ports were undoubtedly at first assigned 
by the Crown; since to each of them a court of portmote is incident, 
the jurisdiction of which must flow from the royal authority. The 
erection of beacons, lighthouses, and sea marks, is also a branch of 
the royal prerogative. The king may injoin any man from going 
abroad, or command any man to return. The powers of establish 
ing public marts, regulating of weights and measures, and the giving 
authority to, or making current, money, the medium of commerce, 
belong to the Crown. By making peace or war, leagues and treaties, 
the king may open or stop trade as he pleases. The admiralty courts 
are grounded on the necessity of supporting a jurisdiction so extern- 


sive, though opposite to the usual doctrines of the common law. The 
laws of Oleron were made by Richard I., and are still used in those 
courts." In the "Mare clausum " are several regulations made by 
kings. Time forbids a more exact inquiry into this point; but such, it 
is apprehended, will, on inquiry, be found to have been the power of 
the Crown, that our argument may gain, but cannot lose. We will 
proceed on a concession, that the power of regulating trade is vested 
in Parliament. 

Commerce rests on concessions and restrictions mutually stipulated 
between the different powers of the world; and, if these colonies were 
sovereign states, they would in all probability be restricted to their 
present portion. The people of England were freemen before they 
were merchants. Whether they will continue free they themselves 
must determine. How they shall trade must be determined by Ger 
mans, Frenchmen, Spaniards, Italians, Turks, Moors, etc. The right 
of acquiring property depends on the rights of others; the right of 
acquired property, solely on the owner. The possessor is no owner 
without it. "Almost every leaf and page of all the volumes of the 
Common Law prove this right of property." Why should this right 
be sacred in Great Britain, "the chief corner-stone" in the solid 
foundation of her Constitution, and an empty name in her colonies ? 
The lamb that presumed to drink in the same stream with a stronger 
animal, though lower down the current, could not refute the charge of 
incommoding the latter by disturbing the water. Such power have 
reasons that appear despicable and detestable at first when they are 
properly enforced. 

From this very principle arose her power; and can that power now 
be justly exerted in suppression of that principle ? It cannot. There 
fore a power of regulating our trade involves not in it the idea of 
supreme legislature over us. The first is a power of a preserving, 
"protecting" nature. The last, as applied to America, is such .? 
power as Mr. Justice Blackstone describes in these w r ords, "whose 
enormous weight spreads horror and destruction on all inferior move^ 
ments." The first is a power subject to a constitutional check. 
Great Britain cannot injure us by taking away our commerce without 
hurting herself immediately. The last is a power without check 01 
limit. She might ruin us by it. The injury thereby to herself might 
be so remote as to be despised by her. 

The power of regulation was the only band that could have held us 
together; formed on one of those "original contracts" which only 
can be a foundation of just authority. Without such a bard our 
general commerce with foreign nations might have been injurious and 
destructive to her. Reason and duty reject such a licence. This our 
duty resembles that of children to a parent. The parent has a power 
orei them; but thej have rights which the parent cannot take away. 
Heaven grant that our mother country may regard us as her children 


that if, by the dispensation of Providence, the time shall come when 
her power decreases, the memory of former kindnesses may supply 
its decays, and her colonies, like dutiful children, may serve and 
guard their aged parent, for ever revering the arms .hat held them in 
their infancy, and the breasts that supported their lives while they 
were little ones. 

It seems as if the power of regulation might not inaptly be com 
pared to the prerogative of making peace, war, treaties, or alliances, 
whereby "the whole nation are bound against their consent;" and 
yet the prerogative by no means implies a supreme legislature. The 
language held in "the Commentaries" on this point is very remark 
able. "With regard to foreign concerns the King is the delegate or 
representative of the people; and in him, as in a centre, all the rays 
of his people are united, and the sovereign power quoad hoc is vested 
in his person." Will any Englishman say these expressions are de 
scriptive of the king s authoriiy, within the realm. " Is the sovereign 
power within that vested in his person ? He is styled " sovereign" in 
deed ; " his realm is declared by many acts of Parliament an empire and 
his crown imperial." But do these splendid appellations, the highest 
known in Europe, signify, that " sovereign power is vested in his person 
within the realm?" We have a full answer in the Commentaries. 
"The meaning of the legislature, when it uses these terms of empire 
and imperial, and applies them to the realm and Crown of England, is 
only to assert, that our king is equally sovereign and independent within 
these his dominions ; and owes no kind of subjection to any potentate 
upon earth." Thus we maintain, that with regard to foreign af 
fairs, the parent original state, " is the delegate or representative, of 
the entire dominions, " the sovereign power quoad hoc is vested" in her. 
Her acts under this power "irrevocably bind the whole nation." But 
yet this power by no means implies a supreme legislature. 

The exercise of this power by statutes was absolutely necessary ; because 
it was, and could only be lodged, as the laws of the parent state stand, in 
the supreme legislature of that state, consisting of king, lords, and com 
mons ; and statutes are the modes by which their united sentiments and 
resolutions are expressed. It is universally acknowledged in Great 
Britain, that it infers no power of taxation in king and lords, that their 
limited authority is used in clothing gifts and grants of the commons 
with the forms of law nor does it infer supreme legislature over Us, 
that the limited authority of king, lords, and commons is used in cloth 
ing regulations of trade with the form of law. The commons joining in 
the act, is not material. The difference is only in the mode of assent. 
Theirs is express, ours is implied, as the assent of the "whole 
nation," is, in the preceding instances. 

This power of regulation appears to us to have been pure in its 
principle, simple in its operation, and salutary in its effects. But for 
some time past we have observed, with pain, that it hath been turned 


to other purposes, than it was originally designed for, and retaining 
its title, hath become an engine of intolerable oppressions and griev 
ous taxations. The -argument of an eminent judge, states the point in 
a similar case strongly for us, in these words " Though it be granted, 
that the king hath the custody of the havens and ports of this island, 
being the very gates of this kingdom, and is trusted with the keys of 
these gates; yet the inference and argument thereupon made, I utterly 
deny. For in it there is mutatio hypothesis, and a transition from a 
thing of one nature to another; as the premises are of a power only 
fiduciary, and in point of trust and government, and the conclusion 
infers a right of interest and gain. Admit the king has custodiam 
portmim, yet he hath but the custody, which is a trust and not 
dominitiin utile. He hath power to open and shut, upon considera 
tion of public good to the people and state, but not to make gain and 
benefit by it. the one is protection, the other is expilation." By com 
mon law the king may restrain a subject from going abroad, or enjoin 
iiim by his chancellor from proceeding at law: But to conclude, that 
he may therefore take money, not to restrain or not to enjoin, is to 
sell government, trust, and common justice. 


Boston, May 14, 1774. 

The faculty of intelligence may be considered as the first gift of God; 
its due exercise is the happiness and honor of man ; its abuse his 
calamity and disgrace. The most trifling duty is not properly dis 
charged witthout the exertion of this noble faculty; yet how often does it 
lie dormant, while the highest concernments are in issue? Believe me 
(my countrymen) the labor of examining for ourselves, or great impo 
sition, must be submitted to; there is no other alternative ; and unless 
we weigh and consider what we examine, little benefit will result from 
research. We are at this extraordinary crisis called to view the most 
melancholy events of our day ; the scene is unpleasant to the eye, bin 
its contemplation will be useful, if our thoughts terminate with judg 
ment, resolution and spirit. 

If at this period of public affairs, we do not think, deliberate, and 
determine like men men of minds to conceive, hearts to feel, and 
virtue to act what are we to do ? to gaze upon our bondage ? while 
our enemies throw about fire-brands, arrows and death, and play their 
tricks of desperation with the gambols of sport and wantonness. 

The proper object of society and civil institution is the advancement 
of " the greatest happiness of the greatest number." The people (as a 

JO SI A II Q UINC y, JR. 6 1 

body, being never interested to injure themselves and uniformly 
desirous of the general welfare) have ever made this collective felicity 
the object of their wishes and pursuit. But strange as it may seem, 
what the many through successive ages have desired and sought, the 
few have found means to baffle and defeat. The necessity of the ac 
quisition hath been conspicuous to the rudest mind; but man, incon 
siderate, that, " in every society, there is an effort constantly tending to 
confer on one part the height of power, and to reduce the other to the 
extreme of weakness and misery," hath abandoned the most important 
concerns of civil society to the caprice and control of those whose 
elevation caused them to forget their pristine equality, and whose in 
terest urged them to degrade the best and most useful below the worst 
and most unprofitable of the species. Against this exertion, and the 
principle which originates it, no vigilance can be too sharp, no 
determination too severe. 

But alas ! as if born to delude and be deluded to believe what 
ever is taught, and bear all that is imposed successive impositions, 
wrongs and insults awaken neither the sense of injury or spirit of 
revenge. Fascinations and enchantments, chains and fetters bind in 
adamant the undeustanding and passions of the human race. Ages 
follow ages, pointing the way to study wisdom but the charm con 

Sanctified by authority and armed with power, error and usurpation 
bid defiance to truth and right, while the bulk of mankind sit gazing at 
the monster of their own creation a monster, to which their follies 
and vices gave origin, and their depravity and cowardice continue in 

" The greatest happiness of the greatest number" being the object 
and bond of society, the establishment of truth and justice ought to be 
the basis of civil policy and jurisprudence. But this capital estab 
lishment can never be attained in a state where there exists a power 
superior to the civil magistrate and sufficient to control the authority 
of the laws. Whenever, therefore, the profession of arms becomes a 
distinct order in the state, and a standing army part of the constitu 
tion, we are not scrupulous to affirm, that the end of the social com 
pact is defeated, and the nation called to act upon the grand question 
consequent upon such an event. 

The people who compose the society (for whose security the labor 
of its institution was performed, and of the toils its preservation daily 
sustained) the people, I say are the only competent judges of their 
own welfare, and, therefore, are the only suitable authority to determine 
touching the great end of their subjection and their sacrifices. This 
position leads us to two others, not impertinent on this occasion, be 
cause of much importance to Americans: 

That the legislative body of the commonwealth ought to deliberate, 
determine and make their decrees in places where the legislators may 


easily know from their own observation the wants and exigencies, the 
sentiments and will, the good and happiness of the people ; and the 
people as easily know the deliberations, motives, designs and conduct 
of their legislators before their statutes and ordinances actually go 
forth and take effect. 

That every member of the Legislature ought himself to be so far 
subject in his person and property to the laws of the state, as to im 
mediately and effectually feel every mischief and inconvenience result 
ing from all and every act of legislation. 

The science of man and society, being the most extended in its 
nature, and the most important in its consequences of any in the circle 
of erudition, ought to be an object of universal attention and study. 
Was it made so, the rights of mankind would not remain buried for 
ages, under systems of civil and priestly hierarchy, nor social felicity 
overwhelmed by lawless domination. 

Under appearances the most venerable, and institutions the most 
revered ; under the sanctity of religion, the dignity of government, 
and the smiles of beneficence, do the subtle and ambitious make 
their first incroachments upon their species. Watch and oppose 
ought therefore to be the motto of mankind. A nation in its best 
estate, guarded by good laws, fraught with public virtue, and steeled 
with martial courage may resemble Achilles ; but Achilles was 
wounded in the heel. The least point left unguarded, the foe enters. 
Latent evils ?.re the most dangerous for we often receive the mortal 
wound, while we are flattered with security. 

The experience of all ages showe that mankind are inattentive to the 
calamities of others, careless of admonition, and with difficulty roused 
to repel the most injurious invasion?. "I perceive (said the great 
patriot Cicero to his countrymen) an inclination for tyranny in all 
Caesar projects or executes." Notwithstanding this friendly caution, 
not " till it was too late did the people find out that no beginnings, 
however small, are to be neglected." For that Caesar, who at first 
attacked the commonwealth with mines very soon opened his bat 
teries. Encroachments upon the rights and property of the citizen arc 
like the rolling of mighty waters over the breach of ancient mounds ; 
slow and unalarming at the beginning, rapid and terrible in the current, 
a deluge and devastation at the end. Behold the oak, which stretchcth 
itself to the mountains, and overshadows the valleys, was once an 
acorn in the bowels of the earth. Slavery (my friends) which was yes 
terday engrafted among you, already overspreads the land, extending 
its arms to the ocean, and its limbs to the rivers. Unclean and vora 
cious animals under its covert, find protection and food, but the shade 
blnsteth the green herb, and the root thereof poisoneththe dry ground, 
while the winds which wave its branches scatter pestilence and death. 

Regular government is necessary to the preservation of private 
property and personal security. Without these, men will descend 


into barbarism, or at best become adepts in humiliation and servility; 
but they will never make a progress in literature or the useful arts. 
Surely a proficiency in arts and sciences is of some value to mankind, 
and deserves some consideration. What regular government can 
America enjoy with a legislative a thousand leagues distant, unac 
quainted with her exigencies, militant in interest, and unfeeling of her 
calamities? What protection of property when ministers under this 
authority shall over-run the land with mercenary legions? What 
personal safety when a British administration (such as it now is, 
and corrupt as it may be) pour armies into the capital and senate- 
house point their arti iery against the tribunal of justice, and plant 
weapons of death at the posts of our doors ? 

Thus exposed to the power, and insulted by the arms of Britain 
standing armies become an object of serious attention. And as the 
history of mankind affords no instance of successful and confirmed 
tyranny, without the aid of military forces, we shall not wonder to 
find them the desiderata of princes, and the grand object of modern 
policy. What, though they subdue every generous passion and extin 
guish every spark of virtue all this must be done, before empires 
will submit to be exhausted by tribute and plundered with impunity. 

Amidst all the devices of man to the prejudice of his species, the 
institution of which we treat, hath proved the most extensively fatal 
to religion, morals, and social happiness. Founded in the most 
malevolent dispositions of the human breast, disguised by the policy 
of state, supported by the lusts of ambition, the sword hath spread 
havoc and misery throughout the world. By the aid of mercenary 
troops, the sinews of war, the property of the subject, the life of the 
commonwealth have been committed to the hands of hirelings, whose 
interest and very existence, depend on an abuse of their power. In 
the lower class of life, standing armies have introduced brutal de 
bauchery and real cowardice ; in the higher or iers of state, venal 
haughtiness and extravagant dissipation. In short, whatever are the 
concomitants of despotism ; whatever the appendages of oppression, 
this armed monster hath spawned or nurtured, protected or estab 
lished, monuments and scourges of the folly and turpitude of man. 

Review the armament of modern princes, what sentiments actuate 
the military body? what characters compose it? Is there a private 
sentinel of all the innumerable troops that make so brilliant a figure, 
who would not for want of property have been driven from a Roman 
cohort, when soldiers were the defenders of liberty ? 

Booty and blind submission is the science of the camp. When lust, 
rapacity, or resentment incite, whole battalions proceed to outrage. 
Do their leaders command obedience must follow. " Private soldier 
(said Tiberius Gracchus from the Roman rostrum) fight and die to 
advance the wealth and luxury of the great." "Soldiers (said an 
eminent Puritan in his sermon preached in this country more than 


one hundred and thirty years ago), are commonly men who fight 
themselves fearlessly into the mouth of hell for revenge, a booty, or 
a little revenue ; a day of battle is a day of harvest for the devil." 
Soldiers, like men, are much the same in every age and country. 

" Heroes are much the same, the point s agreed, 
From Macedonia s madman to the Sweed." 

What will they not fight for whom will they not fight against ? 
Are these men, who take up arms with a view to defend their country 
and its laws ? Do the ideas or the feelings of the citizen actuate a 
British private on entering the camp? Excitements, generous and 
noble, like these, are far from being the stimuli of a modern phalanx. 
The general of an army, habituated to uncontrolled command, feels 
himself absolute ; he forgets his superiors, or rather despises that civil 
authority, which is destitute of an energy to compel his obedience. 
His soldiers (who look up to him as their sovereign, and to their 
officers as magistrates) lose the sentiments of the citizen and contemn 
the laws. Thus a will and a power to tyrannize become united ; and 
the effects are as inevitable and fatal in the political, as the moral 

The soldiers of Great Britain are by the mutiny act deprived of 
those legal rights which belong to the meanest of their fellow subjects, 
and even to the vilest malefactor. Thus divested of those rights and 
privileges which render Britons the envy of all other nations, and 
liable to such hardships and punishments as the limits and mercy of 
our known laws utterly disallow ; it may well be thought they are 
persons best prepared and most easily tempted to strip others of their 
rights, having already lost their own. Excluded, therefore, from the 
enjoyments which others possess, like eunuchs of an Eastern seraglio, 
they envy and hate the rest of the community, and indulge a malig 
nant pleasure in destroying those privileges to which they can never 
be admitted. How eminently does modern observation verify that 
sentiment of Baron Montesquieu a slave living among free men will 
soon become a beast. 

A very small knowledge of the human breast, and a little consider 
ation of the ends for which we form into societies and common- [ 
wealths, discover the impropriety and danger of admitting such an 
order of men to obtain an establishment in the state ; the annals and 
experience of every age, show that it is not only absurdity and folly-* 
but distraction and madness. But we, in this region of the earth, 
have not only to dread and struggle with the common calamities 
resulting from such military bodies, but the combined dangers arising 
from an army of foreigners, stationed in the very bowels of the land. 
Infatuated Britons have been told and as often deceived that an 
army of natives would never oppress their own countrymen. But 
C-^sar and Cromwell, and an hundred others, have enslaved their 


country with such kind of forces And who does not know that 
subalterns are implicitly obedient to their officers; who, when they 
become obnoxious, are easily changed, as armies to serve the pur 
poses of ambition and power are soon new modelled. Hut as to 
America, the armies which infest her shores, are m every view 
foreigners, disconnected with her in interest, kindred, and other social 
alliances, who have nothing to lose, but everything to gain, by 
butchering and oppressing her inhabitants. But yet worse : their 
inroads are to be palliated, their outrages are to receive a sanction 
and defence from a Parliament whose claims and decrees are as 
unrighteous as the Administration is corrupt ; as boundless as their 
ambition, and as terrible as their power. The usurpation and tyranny 
of the Decemviri of Rome are represented as singularly odious and 
oppressive ; but even they never assumed what Britain in the face of 
all mankind hath avowed and exercised over the colonies the power 
of passing laws merely on her own authority. " Nothing that we 
propose (said they to the people) can pass into a law without your 
consent. Be yourselves, ye Romans, the authors of those laws on 
which your happiness depends." 

"The dominion of all great empires degrades and debases the 
human species." The dominion of Britain is that of a mighty empire. 
Her laws waste our substance, her placemen corrupt our morals, and 
her armies are to break our spirits. Yes, are they not to do more? 
"To spoil, to slaughter, and to commit every kind of violence; and 
then to call the manoeuvre by a lying name government ; and, when 
they have spread a general devastation, call it peace." In the bar 
barous massacres of France, in the sixteenth century, the very hang 
men refused obedience to the cruel mandates of the French monarch, 
saying, they were legal officers, and only executed those the laws 
condemned. Yet history bears testimony that the soldiers performed 
the office which the hangman refused. YVho then can be at a loss for 
the views of those who were so fond of introducing and tenacious of 
obtaining similar peace officers in this obnoxious capital ? But let all 
such yes, let Great Britain consider the nature of mankind; let her 
examine carefully the history of past events, and attend to the voice 
of experience. 

In the same age we have just mentioned, the Low Countries, then 
subject to the crown of Spain, being persecuted by the court and church 
of that kingdom, rose up to resist their oppressors. Upon which, in 
the year 1567, the Duke of Alva was sent, and entered the country 
with a well-appointed army, ten thousand strong; in order to quell 
and punish the insurgents. Terrified with these martial operations, the 
towns suffered the open breach of their charters, and the people sub 
mitted to the most humiliating infraction of their liberties; while Alva, 
being invested with the government, erected the court of twelve, 
called the council of blood, and caused great numbers to be condemned 


and executed on account of the insurrections. Universal complaints 
ensued on this disuse of the ordinary courts of law and the introduction 
of the army; but complaints were in vain, and all murmurs despised. 
The people became enraged; but without a leader, they were over 
awed. " The army (says Sir William Temple) was fierce and brave, 
and desirous of nothing so much as a rebellion of the country." All 
was seizure and process, confiscation and imprisonment, blood and 
horror, insolence and dejection, punishments executed and meditated 
revenge. But though the multitude threatened vengeance, the threats 
of a broken and unarmed people excited contempt and not fear. Aha 
redoubled his impositions and ravages, his edicts were published for 
raising monies without the consent of the state, and his soldiers were 
called to levy the exactions by force. But the event shewed that the 
timidity and tameness of mankind, like every thing human, will have 
a period. The patience of the miserable sufferers came to an end ; 
and those commotions began which deluged a great part of Europe 
with blood, and finally freed the united provinces from the yoke of 
Spain and the inquisition. What conflicts too sharp what horrors too 
dreadful to endure for such a happy deliverance such a glorious issue ? 
Thus " the first period of the low country troubles (says the same in 
genious writer) proved to King Philip (of Spain) a dear experience, 
how little the boldest armies and best conduct, are able to withstand 
the torrent of a stubborn and enraged people, which ever bears all 
down before it, till it be divided into different channels by arts, or by 
chance; or till the springs which are the humors that fed it, come to 
be spent, or dry up of themselves." 

During several centuries, history informs us, that no monarch in 
Europe was either so bold, or so powerful as to venture on any steps 
towards the introduction of regular troops. At last, Charles the 7th 
of France, seizing a favorable opportunity in 1445, executed that which 
his predecessors durst not attempt, and established the first standing 
army known in Europe. Lewis the nth, son and successor of Charles, 
finding himself at the head of his father s forces, was naturally excited 
to extend the limits of his ancestors, in the levies of money and men. 
Charles had not been able to raise upon his subjects two millions, but 
the army he left his successor enabled him to levy near five. The 
father established an army of about seventeen hundred, which "he 
kept in good order and placed for the defence of the realm;" but this 
army, though thus disciplined and stationed, enabled the son to main 
tain "in continual pay a terrible band of men of arms, which gave the 
realm (says the historian Philip de Commines) a cruel wound of which 
it bled many years." How regular, correspondent and uniform are 
the rise and progression of military calamities in all ages! How re 
plete with instruction how full of admonition are the memorials of 
distant times especially when contracted into the view, and held up 
in comparison with the present. 


Charles and Lewis having set the example, all Hie neighboring 
crowned heads soon followed, and mercenary troops were introduced 
into all the considerable kingdoms of the continent. They gradually 
became the only military force that was employed or trusted. It has 
long been (says the learned Dr. Robertson) the chief object of policy 
to increase and support them, and the great aim of princes or minis 
ters to discredit and to annihilate all other means of national activity 
or defence. Who will wonder at this, who reflect, that absolute mon 
archies are established, and can only be supported by mercenary forces? 
Who can be surprised that princes and their subalterns discourage a 
martial spirit among the people, and endeavor to render useless and 
contemptible the militia, when this institution is the natural strength, 
and only stable safeguard of a free country? " Without it, tis folly to 
think any free government will ever have security and stability." A 
standing army in quarters will grow effeminate and dissolute; while a 
militia, uniformly exercised with hard labor, are naturally firm and 
robust. Thus an army in peace is worse than a militia; and in war, a 
militia will soon become disciplined and martial. But "when the 
sword is in the hands of a single person as in our constitution he will 
always (says the ingenious Hume) neglect to discipline the militia, in 
order to have a pretext for keeping up a standing army. Tis evident 
(says the same great character) that this is a mortal distemper in the 
British government; of which it must at last inevitably perish." What 
a deformed monster is a standing army in a free nation? Free, did I 
say? what people are truly free, whose monarch has a numerous body 
of armed mercenaries at his heels? who is already absolute in his power 
or by the breath of his nostrils may in an instant make himself so ? 

No free government was ever founded or ever preserved its liberty 
without uniting the characters of the citizen and soldier in those des 
tined for defence of the state. The sword should never be in the 
hands of any, but those who have an interest in the safety of the com 
munity, who fight for their religion and their offspring; and repel 
invaders that they may return to their private affairs, and the enjoy 
ment of freedom and good order. Such are a well regulated militia 
composed of the freeholders, citizen and husbandman, who take up 
arms to preserve their property as individuals, and their rights as free 
men. Such is the policy of a truly wise nation, and such was the 
wisdom of the ancient Britons. The primitive constitution of a state 
in a few centuries falls to decay: errors and corruption creep gradually 
into the administration of government till posterity forget or disre 
gard the ins .itutions of their remote ancestors. In ancient times, the 
militia of England was raised, officered and conducted by common 
consent. Its militia was the ornament of the realm in peace, and for 
ages continued the only and sure defence in war. Was the King him 
self general of an army it was by the consent of his people. Thus 
when the Romans visited the island of Britain, Cassibelan was the Prince 


and chief commander in war; but it was by the election of the great 
Common Council, Sum in a belli (says Caesar) communi concilio, Cassi- 
bilano tradilnr. Nor will this seem strange, when we consider that it 
was the first state maxim with the Druids ne loqui dc -rcpublica, nisi per 
concilium not even to speak upon a matter of state but in council. 
Nor is it to be wondered that such politicians informed Csesar, that 
they had been so long accustomed to liberty, that they knew not the 
meaning of tribute and slavery; and sent him word that they had as 
good blood as he, and from the same fountain. Surely a message that 
was received by a Roman, may be sent to a British Caesar. These 
were those venerable Druids, who had inspired the Gauls, of whom 
Caesar reports this memorable boast: We can call or appeal to such a 
Great Common Council, as all the world cannot resist. Tacitus, speak 
ing of our Saxon ancestors, relates, Regcs ex nobilitate. Duccs ex vir- 
tute in iisdeni conciliis eliguntur. The great council, or the Parliament 
of the state had, not only the appointment of the pri-ncipes militia, but 
the conduct of all the military forces, from the first erection of the 
standard, to its lodgment in the Citadel; for as the same noble writer 
informs, it was their general custom not to entrust any man with the 
bearing of arms, antcquam ci vitas stissectui-uni probaverit. Such was 
the security of the people from the calamities of a standing army: 
happy indeed if their successors could boast a similar provision 
Britain would not new be groaning under oppression nor her distant 
children struggling for their freedom. 

A spirited nation thus embodied in a well disciplined militia, will 
soon become warlike; and such a people more fitted for action than 
debate, always hasten to a conclusion on the subject of grievances and 
public wrongs, and bring their deliberations to the shortest issue. 
With them "it is the work of but one day, to examine and resolve the 
nice question, concerning the behavior of subjects towards a ruler who 
abuses his power." 

Artful dissemblings and plausible pretences are always adopted in 
order to introduce regular troops. Dionysius became the tyrant of 
Syracuse, the most opulent of all the Grecian cities, by feigning a 
solicitude for the people and a fear of his own person. He humbly 
prayed only a guard for his protection: they easily granted, what he 
readily took the power of plundering by military force, and entailing 
his sovereignty by a devise of his sword. Agathocles, a successor to 
the Dionysian family and to the command of the army, continued the 
military tyranny; and butchered the enslaved people by centuries. 

Cardinal Ximenes, who made the first innovation of this kind in 
Spain, disguised the measure under the pious and popular appearance 
of resisting the progress of the infidels. The nobles saw his views and 
excited opposition in the chief towns of the kingdom. But by dexter 
ously using terror and entreaty, force and forbearance, the refractory- 
cities were brought to compliance. The nobles thus driven to despe- 


rate resolutions by the cardinal s military movements, at a personal 
interview were warm and intemperate. When the arch-prelate insen 
sibly led them towards a balcony, from which they had a view of a 
large body of troops under arms, and a formidable train of artillery; 
" Behold," says he, pointing- to these, and raising his voice, " the pow 
ers which I have received from his catholic majesty. With these I 
govern Castile, and with these I will govern it." Nobles and people 
discovered it was now too late for resistance: to regret past folly and 
dread future calamities was the remaining fate of the wretched Cas- 
tilians. After the Romans quitted the island of Britain, the first 
appearance of a standing army was under Richard the second. The 
suppression of his enemies in Ireland calling him out of England, his 
subjects seized the opportunity and dethroned him. 

Henry the seventh, a character odious for rapacity and fraud, was 
the first king of England wiio obtained a permanent military band in 
that kingdom. It was only a band of fifty archers: with the harmless 
appellation of yeomen of the guards. This apparently trival institu 
tion was a precedent for the greatest political evil that ever infested 
the inhabitants of Britain. The ostensible pretext was, the dignity of 
government " the grandeur of majesty" the alteration of the con 
stitution, and an increase of power was the aim of the prince. An 
early " oppugnation of the king s authority," though, no doubt, his 
favorite subalterns would have styled it " ill-timed," had easily effected 
that disbanding of the new raised forces, which being a little while de 
layed, no subsequent struggles have accomplished. The wisdom of 
resistance at the beginning, has been repeatedly inculcated by the wise 
and liberal-minded of all nations, and the experience of every age hath 
confirmed their instruction. But no precept or example can make the 
bulk of mankind wise for themselves. Though cautioned (as we have 
seen) against the projects of Caesar, the smiles of his benignity deceived 
the Roman commonwealth, till the increase of his power bid defiance 
to opposition. Celebrated for his generosity and manificence, his 
complacency and compassion, the complaisant courtier made his way 
into the hearts of his countrymen. They would not believe, though 
admonished by the best of men and first of patriots, that the smiling 
Caesar would filch away their liberties, that a native born and bred a 
Roman would enslave his country the land of his fathers the land 
of his birth the land of hfs posterity. But the ambitious Caesar aim 
ing at authority, and Caesar armed and intoxicated with power, appear in 
very different characters. He who appeared with the mildness of a 
fine gentleman, in his primaeval state, in an advanced station conducted 
with the sternness of a tyrant. Opposed by a tribune of the people in 
taking money out of the public treasury against the laws, Caesar with 
an army at his heels, proclaimed " arms and laws do not flourish to 
gether." "If you are not pleased (added the usurper) with what I am 
about, you have nothing to do but to withdraw. Indeed war will not 


bear much liberty of speech. When I say this, I am departing from 
rny own right. For you and all I have found exciting a spirit of faction 
against me, are at my disposal." Saying this, he approached the doors 
of the treasury, as the keys were- not produced, he sent his workmen 
to break them open. This is the complaisant Caesar renowned for 
his amiable qualities: by his easy address he deceived, and by his arts 
enslaved his countrymen and prepared the way for a succeeding Nero 
to spoil and slaughter them. Singular and very remarkable have been 
the interpositions of Providence in favor of New England the per 
mission of an early carnage in our streets, peradventure, was to awaken 
us from the danger of being politely beguiled into security, and fraud- 
fully drawn into bondage a state that sooner or later ends in rapine 
and blood. Shall we be too enthusiastic, if we attribute to the divine 
influence that unexpected good which h;.th so often in our day been 
brought out of premeditated evil ? Few, < omparatively, of the many 
mischiefs aimed against us, but what have terminated in some advan 
tage, or are now verging to some happy issue. If the dexterity of 
veteran troops have not excited envy, if their outrage hath not pro 
voked revenge, their military disclipine hath set a well-timed example, 
and their savage fury been a well-improved incentive. The lusts of 
an enemy may touch a sensibility of mind, and his very pride pique 
the virtue of the heart. 

Charles the second told his Parliament, their "jealousy, that the 
forces he had raised were designed to control laws and property, was 
weak and frivolous." The cajolement took for a season, but his sub 
jects having been abused by repeated violations of his most solemn 
vows, at last roused from their lethargy; and the king began to dread 
the severity of their vengeance. He therefore kept up a standing army, 
not only against law, but the repeated resolutions of every Parliament 
of his reign. He found that corruption without force could not con 
firm him a tyrant, and therefore cherished and augmented his troops 
to the destruction of his people and the terror of his senators. "There 
go our masters" was a common saying among the members of Parlia 
ment. " No law can restrain these people; houses are taken from us, 
our lives are in danger" (said one member in Parliament.) " "Without 
betraying her trust, (said P,ussel) we must vote these standing forces a 
grievance. There are designs, about the King, to ruin religion and 
property. Public business is the least of theft: concern. A few upstart 
people, making hay while the sun shines, set up an army to establish 
their interest: I would have care taken for the future, that no army be 
raised for a cabal interest. A gentleman said the last session, that 
this war was made rather for the army, than the army for the war. 
This government, with a standing army, can never be safe: We can- 
not be secure in this house; and some of us mav have our heads 
taken off." 

Patriots harangued in vain -*he Commons voted the keeping up 


the army illegal and a grievance but while they thus did, they openly 
betrayed a dread of that army. " I would not give an alarm to those 
who have arms in their hands," said one member; " I cannot but 
observe that the House of Commons is now in fear of the army," said 
another Plain as it was for what end the army was kept up, the 
people slumbered. 

The British Court, never destitute of plausibilities to deceive, or 
inventions to enthral the nation, appropriated moneys, raised by 
Parliament for the purpose of disbanding the army, to their continu 
ance, and uniformly pursued similar measures, till in the year 1684, 
" the King, in order to make his people sensible to their new 
slavery, affected to muster his troops, which amounted to 4,000 
well-armed and disciplined." If Rapin denominated so small an 
armament, the slavery of the subject under Charles II., what would 
he call the state of Britons under George III.? With 4,000 troops 
the kingdom it seems was reduced to servitude; but the spirit of the 
nation soon after rose. In 1685 complaint was made in Parliament 
that the country was weary of the oppression and plunder of the 
soldiers;" "the army (it was said) debauched the manners of all the 
people, their wives, daughters, and servants." The grievance became 
intolerable and, what was happy, it was not too mighty for oppo 
sition James II had only 14,000 or 15,000 troops and no riot 
act. The barbarities of a Kirk, and the campaign of a Jefferies, could 
not pass with impunity. The revolution succeeded, and James abdi 
cated his throne. Such was the fate of one who vainly affected to 
play the despot with about fifteen regiments, had he been encircled 
with an hundred, no doubt, he had reigned an applauded tyrant 
flattered in his day, with that lying appellation the wisest and the 
best of kings." 

The army of the present king of Great Britain is larger than that 
with which Alexander subdued the East, or Caesar conquered Gaul. 
" If the army we now keep up (said Sir John Philips thirty years ago 
in the House of Commons) should once be as much attached to the 
Crown as Julius Caesar s army was to him, I should be glad to know 
where we could find a force superior to that army!" Is there no such 
attachment now existing? Surely the liberties of England, if not held 
at will, are holden by a very precarious tenure. 

The supreme power is ever possessed by those who have arms in 
their hands and are disciplined to the use of them. When the Archieves, 
conscious of a good title, disputed with Lysander about boundaries, 
the Lacedemonian showed his sword, and vaunlingly cried out "he 
that is master of this can best plead about boundaries." The Mar- 
motines of Messina declined appearance at the tribunal of Pompey, 
to acknowledge his jurisdiction, alleging in excuse, ancient privi 
leges, granted them by the Romans "Will you never have done 
(exclaimed Pompey) with citing laws and privileges to men who wear 


swords ? What boundaries will they set to their passions, who have 
no limits to their power? Unlimited oppression and wantonness are 
the never-failing attendants of unbounded authority. Such power a 
veteran army always acquire, and, being able to riot in mischief with 
impunity, they always do it with licentiousness. 

Regular soldiers, embodied for the purpose of originating oppres 
sion or extending dominion, ever compass the control of the magis 
trate. The same force wh. ch preserves a despotism immutable, may 
change the despot every day. Power is soon felt by those who 
possess it, and they who can command will never servilely obey. 
The leaders of the army, having become masters of the person of 
their sovereign, degrade or exalt him at will. Obvious as these truths 
may seem, and confirmed as they are by all history, yet a weak or 
wicked prince is easily persuaded, by the creatures who surround him, 
to act the tyrant. A character so odious to subjects, must necessarily 
be timid and jealous. Afraid of the wise and good, he must support 
his dignity by the assistance of the worthless and wicked. Standing 
armies are therefore raised by the infatuated prince. No sooner 
established than the defenceless multitude are their first prey Mere 
power is wanton and cruel the army grow licentious and the people 
grow desperate. Dreadful alternative to the infatuated monarch ! In 
constant jeopardy of losing the regalia of empire, till the caprice of an 
armed banditti degrade him from sovereignty, or the enraged people 
wreak an indiscriminate and righteous vengeance. Alas! when will 
kings learn wisdom, and mighty men have understanding? 

A further review of the progress of armies in our parent state will 
be a useful though not a pleasant employ. No particular reason or 
occasion was so much as suggested in the bill which passed the 
Parliament, in 1717, for keeping on foot a standing army of 30,000 
men in time of peace (a number since amazingly increased). An act 
justly recorded in the Lord s Journal, to be a precedent for keeping 
the same army at all times, and which the protest of that day fore 
told, " must inevitably subvert the ancient constitution of the realm, 
and subject the subjects to arbitrary power." To borrow the pointed 
turn of a modern orator what was once prophecy, is now history. 

The powers given by the mutiny act, which is now constantly 
passed every year, was repeatedly in former times "opposed and 
condemned by Parliament as repugnant to Magna-charta, and incon 
sistent with the fundamental rights and liberties of a free people." 
In this statute no provision is made for securing the obedience of the 
military to the civil power, on which the preservation of our constitu 
tion depends. A great number of armed men governed by martial 
law, having it in their power, are naturally inclined not only to dis 
obey, but to insult the civil magistrate. The experience of what hath 
happened in England, as well as the memorials of all ages and nations, 
have made it sufficiently apparent that wherever an effectual provision 


is not made to secure the obedience of soldiers to the laws of their 
country, the military hath constantly subverted and swallowed up the 
civil power. What provision of this kind can the several continental 
legislatures make against British troops stationed in the colonies? 
Nay, if the virtue of one branch of government attempted the salutary 
measure, would the first branch ever give its consent ? A governor 
must he will obey his master; the alternative is obvious. The armies 
quartered among us must be removed, or they will in the end overturn 
and trample on all that we ought to hold valuable and sacre;]. 

We have authority to affirm that the regular forces of Great Britain 
consist of a greater number than are necessary for the guard of the 
King s person and the defence of government, and therefore dangerous 
to the constitution of the kingdom. What, then, do these armaments, 
when established here, threaten to our laws and liberties ? Well might 
the illustrious members of the House of Peers, in 1722, hold forth the 
danger of "a total alteration of the frame of our constitution from a 
legal and limited monarchy to a despotic;" and declare they were 
" induced to be of this judgment, as well from the nature of armies, 
and the inconsistency of great military power and martial law with 
civil authority, as from the known and universal experience of other 
countries in Europe, which, by the influence and power of standing 
armies, in time of peace, have, from limited monarchies, like ours, been 
changed into absolute." The taxes necessary to maintain a standing 
army drain and impoverish the land. Thus exhausted by tribute, the 
people gradually become spiritless and fall an easy sacrifice to the 
reigning power. 

Spirits, like Britons, naturally fierce and independent, are not easily 
awed or suddenly vanquished by the sword. Hence an augmentation 
of forces hath been pushed when there was no design of bringing 
them into action against Englishmen in an open field. New forces 
have oftener than once been raised in England more for civil than 
military service; and, as elections for a new parliament have ap 
proached, this door has been opened to introduce a large body of 
commissioned pensioners. What hath been the consequence ? A 
constant majority of placemen meeting under the name of a parlia 
ment, to establish grievances instead of redressing them to approve 
implicitly the measures of a court without information to support 
and screen ministers they ought to control or punish to grant money 
without right, and expend it without discretion? Have these been 
the baneful consequences? Are these solemn truths? Alas! we 
tremble to think; but, we may venture to say, that when this is true 
of that legislative authority, which not only claims (but exercises) 
"still power and authority to make laws and statutes to bind the 
colonies and people of America in all cases whatsoever; " the forms 
of our Constitution, creating a fatal delusion, will become our greatest 


The formalities of a free, and the ends of a despotic state, have often 
subsisted together. Thus deceived was the republic of Rome ; 
officers and magistrates retained their old names ; the forms of the 
ancient government being kept up, the fundamental laws of the com 
monwealth were violated with impunity, and its once free Constitution 
utterly annihilated. He who gave Augustus Caesar the advice, "that 
to the officers of state the same names, pomp, and ornaments, should 
be continued, with all the appearances of authority, without the 
power," discovered an intimate acquaintance with mankind. The 
advice was followed, and Caes:r soon became senate, magistracy, and 
laws. Is not Britain to America what Csesar was to Rome ? 

It is curious to observe the various acts of imposition, which are 
alternately practiced by the great and subtle of this world, on their 
subordinate and simple-minded brethren. Are a people free ? new 
oppressions are introduced or shrouded under old names; are they in 
present bondage, and begin to grow turbulent ? new appellations must 
be adopted to disguise old burdens. A notable instance of this latter 
kind we find in the Parliament of Great Biitain (in 36 Edw. 3, ch. 2), 
upwards of four hundred years ago. The royal prerogative, called 
purveyance, having been in vain regulated by many preceding 
statutes, still continued so intolerably grievous that fresh murmurs 
and complaints called for a more adequate or better adapted provision. 
The British legislature, for this valuable purpose, therefore passed 
this very remarkable law, which, by way of remedy, enacted as fol 
lows, viz.: " That the hateful name of purveyor shall be changed into 
that of Acator." Thus the nation were to be made to believe that the 
oppression ceased because the name was altered. For the honor of 
government, as well as mankind, it is devoutly to be wished that our 
laws and history contained no other record of such disgraceful prac 
tices. If any late acts of the British Parliament carry strong marks 
of a similar policy, it is, surely, not altogether unworthy the consider 
ation of the members of that august body how far such disingenuous 
practices are consistent with the honor of their private characters, or 
the dignity of their public station. 

The magic of sounds and appellations hath not ceased, and they 
work as much deception and abuse as ever. What valuable purpose 
does a wholly subordinate legislative serve, (except to amuse with the 
shadow, while the substance is departed) if a remote state may legis 
late for and bind us "in all cases ?" To what end doth an American 
House of Representatives go through the form of granting away mon 
ies, if another power, full as familiar with our pockets, may annihilate 
all they do; and afterwards, with a modern dexterity, take possession 
of our purses without ceremony, and dispose of the contents without 
modesty; without control, and without account? 

It is curious and instructive to attend the courts of debate in the 
British Commons for keeping up the army. At first even the highest 


courtiers would argue that a standing army, in times of peace, was 
never attempted. Soon after the court-speakers urged for continuance 
of a numerous army for one year longer. At the end of several years 
after, the gentlemen throw aside the mask, and boldly declare such a 
number of troops must always be kept up. In short the army must be 
continued till it becomes part of the constitution; and in later times, 
members of the house have ventured to harangue for measures, none 
would have dared to lisp a few years before. The wise foresaw this, 
and the honest foretold it. " If we continue the army but a little 
while longer," (said a celebrated member upwards of forty years ago.) 
" it may be in the power of some gentlemen to talk in this house, in 
terms that will be no way agreeable to the constitution or liberties 
of our country. To tell us that the same number of forces must be 
always kept up, is a proposition full-fraught with innumerable evils, 
and more particularly with this, that it may make wicked ministers 
more audacious than otherwise they would be in projecting and propo- 
gating schemes which may be inconsistent with the liberties, destruc 
tive of the trade, and burthensome on the people of this nation. . In 
countries governed by standing armies, the inclinations of the people 
are but little minded, the ministers place their security in the army, 
the humors of the army they only consult, with them they divide the 
spoils, and the wretched people are plundered by both." Who, that 
now reconsiders this prophetic language, in conjunction with the events 
of his own time, but will cry out the speaker felt the impulse of inspi 
ration ! 

Whoever (says the justly celebrated Dr. Blackstone) will attentively 
consider the English history, may observe, that the flagrant abuse of 
any power, by the Crown or its ministers, has always been productive 
of a struggle, which either discovers the exercise of that power to be 
contrary to law, or (if legal) restrains it for the future." 

The ingenious commentator seems here to have particular references 
to periods prior to the revolution. But will the learned judge say, 
that since that era, there have been no flagrant abuses of power by the 
Crown or its ministers ? Have not repeated struggles arose in conse 
quence of such abuses, which did not terminate in the happy issue so 
characteristic of Englishmen ? Let any one peruse the journals of Par 
liament, especially those of the House of Peers; let him carefully 
review the British and American annals of the present century, and 
answer truly to these questions. The natural enquiry will be whence 
then is it that such abuses have become so numerous and flagrant, 
and the struggles of Britons so unsuccessful ? Will not the question 
receive an ample solution in the words of the same great lawyer ? 
" There is a newly acquired branch of (royal) power; and that not the 
influence only, but the force of a disciplined army, paid indeed ulti 
mately by the people, but immediately by the Crown; raised by the 
Crown, officered by the Crown, commanded by the Crown." 


We are told by the same learned author, that "whenever the uncon 
stitutional oppressions, even of the sovereign power, advance with 
gigantic strides and threaten desolation to a state, mankind will not 
be reasoned out of the feelings of humanity, nor will sacrifice their 
liberty by a scrupulous adherence to those political maxims, which 
w r ere established to preserve it." But those who cannot be reasoned 
out of their feelings, are easily repressed by the terror of arms, from 
giving tokens of their sensibility; and states ancient and modern 
(yes Britain will bear me witness !) who would disdain to sacrifice 
their freedom to political institutions have tremblingly stood aloof, 
while it was dragged to the altar under the banners of a royal army. 

The policy and refinement of men clothed with authority, often 
deceive those who are subject to its control; and thus a people are 
often induced to waive their rights, and relinquish the barriers of their 
safety. The fraud, however, must at last be discovered, and the nation 
will resume their ancient liberties, if there be no force sufficient to 
screen the usurper and defend his nomination. The sword alone is 
sufficient to subdue that spirit which compels rulers to their duty, and 
tyrants to their senses. Hence, then, though a numerous standing 
army may not be absolutely requisite to depress a kingdom into servi 
tude, they are indispensably necessary to confirm an usurpation. 

A large army and revenue are not easily and at once forced upon a 
free people. By slow degrees and plausible pretences, as we have 
seen in England, the end is accomplished. But when once a numerous 
body of revenue and military men, entirely dependent on the Crown, 
are incorporated, they are regardless of any thing but its will: and 
where that will centers, and what such power can effect, is a matter of 
no doubtful disputation. 

The prereat army of a prince is always composed of men of honor 
and integrity, as the reigning monarch is ever the best of kings. In 
such an army, it is said, you may trust your liberties with safety: in 
such a king you may put your confidence without reserve: the good 
man has not a wish beyond the happiness of his subjects! Yet let it be 
i^membered, that under the best of kings, we ought to seize the fleeting 
opportunity and provide against the worst. But admitting, that from 
this rare character a wise and good monarch a nation have nothing 
to fear; yet they have everything to dread from those who would 
clothe him with authority, and invest him with powers incompatible 
with all polit cal freedom and social security. France, Spain, Den 
mark, and Sweden in modern times, have felt the baneful effects of 
this fatal policy. Though the latter state are said to have this excel 
lent institution, that the commissions to their military officers all run 
quain diu se bene gesserint: a regulation which ought to be the tenure 
of all offices of public trust, and may be of singular utility in states 
which have incorporated a standing army as part of the constitution of 


An invasion and conquest by mere strangers and foreigners are 
neither so formidable or disgraceful as the establishment of a standing 
army under color of the municipal law of the land. Thus Roman 
armies were more terrible to the Roman colonies, than an "enemy s 
army/ Valor has scope for action against an open enemy, but the 
most precious liberties of a kingdom are massacred in cold blood by 
the disciplined Janizaries of the state, and there is little hope of a gen 
eral resistance. The natural inherent right of the conquered is to 
throw off the yoke, as soon as they are able; but subjects enslaved by 
the military forces of their own sovereign, become spiritless and des 
pondent; and scaffolds and axes, the gibbet and the halter, too often 
terrify them from those noble exertions which would end in their de 
liverance, by a glorious victory or an illustrious death. 

Yet in full peace, without any just apprehensions of insurrections at 
home, or invasions from abroad ; it was the mischievous policy of the 
English ministry in 1717, to procure an allowance of near double the 
forces to what had ever before been established by the sanction of Par 
liament in times of public tranquillity. Well might many of the nobil 
ity of Britain conceive, that as so many forces were no ways neces 
sary to support, they had reason to fear danger to the constitution, 
which was never entirely subverted but by a standing army. The 
English military bands have since been much augmented; and whether 
this disgraceful subversion has already taken place, or is still verging 
to its accomplishment, may be resolved, after a further inspection, into 
memorials of the present age. 

More than half a century since, the discerning members of the 
House of Lords discovered the tendency of these extraordinary arma 
ments to be no other, than to overthrow the civil power of the king 
dom, and to turn it into a military government. A very short period 
after this, many of the same noble house, bore open testimony, that 
they were "justly jealous from the experience of former times, that 
the Crown itself, as well as the liberties of the people might be found 
at the disposal of a standing army at home." 

But as if one standing army was not enough to ruin a nation of Eng 
lishmen, a new kind of forces was raised against the commonwealth. 
The officers employed in the customs, excise, in other branches of the 
revenue, and other parts of public service, compose in effect a second 
standing army in England, and in some respects are more dangerous, 
than that body of men so called. The influence which this order have. 
in the election of members to serve in Parliament, hath been too often 
felt in Great Britain to be denied. And we have good authority to 
say, "that examples are not hard to find, where the military forces 
have withdrawn to create an appearance of a free election, and the 
standing civil forces of this kind have been sent to take that freedom 
away. " Is a House of Commons thus chosen the representatives of 
the people or of the administration or of a single minister ? 


As Lewis the Xlth of France, was the first monarch in Europe, who 
reduced corruption to a system, so the era of its establishment in Eng 
land may be fixed at the nr yn of Charles the Second. Britain, then 
for the first time, saw corruption, like a destroying angel, walking at 
noon-day. Charles pensioned his Parliament, and by it extinguished 
not only the spirit of freedom, but the sentiments of honour and the 
feelings of shame. Since the age of Charles, the science of bribery 
and corruption hath made amazing progress. Patriots of the last cen 
tury told their countrymen what it threatened the worthies of tnis 
day ought rather to tell what hath been effected. 

Near fifty years ago, there were more than two hundred persons 
holding offices or employments under the Crown in the House of Com 
mons. Since that time this body like the military (and for the same 
purposes) have received very notable additions. Is it to be wondered, 
then, as we verge nearer to our own times, we should hear the most 
august assembly in the kingdom declaring to the whole world, that 
"the influence of the Crown is almost irresistible, being already ever- 
grown and yet increasing : that the most valuable rights of the nation 
are subverted by arbitrary and illegal proceedings : that a flagrant us 
urpation (is made upon the subject) as Highly repugnant to every prin 
ciple of the constitution, as the claim of ship-money by King Charles 
the First, or that of the dispensing power by King fames the Second." 
Finally, considering all that we have seen in the course of our review, 
could any thing else be expected, than what forty of the House of 
Lords openly protest they have seen with great une asiness, a plan for 
a long time systematically carried on, for lowering all the constitu 
tional powers of the kingdom, rendering the House of Commons odi 
ous, and the House of Peers contemptible ?" 

Here let us pause (my fellow-citizens) and consider : hath the exe- 
crable plan thus systematically and for a long time pursued, at last 
taken effect ? Are all the constitutional powers of Great Britain so 
lowered in the estimation of the people, and their nobility despised ? 
is their king possessed of power sufficient to make fear, a substitute 
for love ? has he an army at his absolute command, with which no 
force in his empire is capable to cope ? judge ye, my countrymen, of 
these questions, upon which I may not decide: judge, for yourselves, 
of the political state of that kingdom, which claims a right of dispos 
ing of our all ; a right of laying every burden that power can impose; 
a right of over- running our soil and freeholds with mercenary legions, 
and still more mercenary placemen and dependants. Thus luxury 
and riot, debauchery and havock are to become the order and peace 
of our cities, and the stability and honour of our times. To this and 
like hopeful purposes, we find " the fullest directions sent to the sev 
eral officers of the revenue, that all the produce of the American 
duties, arising or to arise, by virtue of any British Act of Parliament, 
should, from time to time, be paid to the deputy paymaster in America 


to defray the subsistence of the troops, and any military expenses in 
curred in the colonies." Highly favoured Americans ! you are to be 
wasted with taxes and impositions, in order to satisfy the charges of 
those armaments which are to blast your country with the most terri 
ble of all evils universal corruption, and a military government. 

The reigns of past and present great monarchs when compared, 
often present a striking similitude. The Ernp. Charles the Fifth, 
having exalted the royal prerogative (or the influence of the Crown) 
on the ruins of the privileges of the Castilians, allowed the name 
of the Cortes (or the Parliament) to remain : and the formality of 
holding it thus continued, he reduced its authority and jurisdiction 
to nothing, and modelled it in such a manner, that it became (says 
Dr. Robertson) rather a junto of the servants of the Crown, than 
an assembly of the representatives of the people. The success of 
Charles in abolishing the privileges of the nobles of Castile, en 
couraged an invasion of the liberties of Arragon, which were yet 
more extensive. 

Attend Americans ! reflect on the situation of your mother coun 
try, and consider the late conduct of your brethren in Britain toward 
this Continent. "The Castilians (once high spirited and brave in the 
cause of freedom) accustomed to subjection themselves, assisted (says 
the same illustrious historian) in imposing the yoke on their more 
happy and independent neighbours." Hath not Britain (fallen from 
her pristine freedom and glory) treated America, as Castile did Arra 
gon ? have not Britons imposed on our necks the same yoke which the 
Castilians imposed on the happy Arragonese ? Yes ! I speak it with 
grief ; I speak it with anguish ; Britons are our oppressors ; I speak 
it with shame ; I speak it with indignation ; we are slaves. 

As force first fixes the chains of vassalage, so cowardice restrains an 
enslaved people from bursting in sunder their bands. But the case 
perhaps is not desperate till the yoke has been so long borne, that the 
understanding and the spirits of the people are sunk into ignorance 
and barbarism, supineness and perfect inactivity! Such, I yet trust, 
is not the deplorable state of the land of my nativity. How soon it 
may be we shall tremble, when we reflect that the progress of thral 
dom is secret, and its effects incredibly rapid and dreadful. Hence we 
see nations once the freest and most high-spirited in Europe, abject in 
the most humiliating condition. The oath of allegiance to their king, 
exhibits the true standard of all just subjection to government, and 
testifies a genuine sense and spirit. " We, who are each of us as good, 
and who are altogether more powerful than you, promise obedience 
to your government, if you maintain our right and liberties; if not, 
not." When a people, endowed with such understandings, senii- 
ments and virtue, have fallen into a disgraceful vassalage- what have 
we in this land, at this time, reason to fear! The same Athenians who 
insulted and bid defiance to a Philip of Macedon, crouched and 


cowled at the feet of an Alexander. Romans who with righteous in 
dignation expelled royalty, and the Tarquins bore with infamy and 
shame the ravages of succeeding kings and emperors. Englishmen 
who rose with a divine enthusiasm against the first Charles, disgrace 
fully submitted to the usurpation of a Cromwell; and then, with un 
exampled folly and madness, restored that odious and execrable race 
of tyrants, the house of Stewart. Examples, like these, ought to 
excite the deepest concern; at this day, they ought to do more to 
inspire fortitude and action. 

Providence from the beginning hath exercised this country with sin 
gular trials. In the earliest periods of our history, New England is 
seen surrounded with adversaries, and alternately vexed with foes 
foreign and domestic. Fierce as her enemies were from abroad, and 
savage as the natives of America were within, her worst enemies will 
be found those of her own household. 

Our fathers "left their native country with the strongest assurance 
that they and their posterity should enjoy the privileges of free 
natural born. English subjects." Depending upon these assurances, 
they sustained hardships scarcely paralleled in the annals of the world; 
yet compassion, natural to the human breast, did not restrain internal 
foes from involving them in new calamities; nor did that disgrace 
and contempt, which suddenly fell upon the conspirators, damp the 
ardor of their malignity. 

So early as 1633 (not fourteen years after the first arrival at Ply 
mouth), " the new settlers were in perils from their own countrymen." 
In this, the infant state of the country, while exposed to innumerable 
hardships, vexed with hostilities from Europe and the depredations of 
savages, there existed men who " beheld the Massachusetts with an 
envious eye." The characteristics of the first conspirators against this 
province, were secrecy and industry; they had effected the mischief 
before the people knew of their danger. Morton, in his letter to 
Jefferies the first of May, 1634, writes, that "the Massachusetts patent, 
by an order of council, was brought in view, and the privileges well 
scanned." But by whom? very like some of more modern fame; an 
archbishop, and the Privy Council of Charles the First! excellent essay- 
masters for New England privileges most renowned judges of the 
rights and liberties of mankind! They first discover the chaitet tu 
be void," and then, no doubt, advise to the issuing of the commission 
found by my Lord Barrington in the 3ist vol. of Mr. Petyt s manu 
script, "a commission directed to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the 
Lord Chancellor, and other lords of the Privy Council, by which they 
are impowered to prepare laws for the better government of the 
colonies;" "which were afterwards to be enforced by the King s 

This was considered as a master-stroke of policy; and the public 
conspirators of the day displayed the plumage of triumph with that 


spirit and ostentation which have descended to their successors. But 
how easy is it, with Providence, to disappoint the projects, and humble 
the pride of man! Laud and his master, in the subsequent periods of 
history, are found too busied with their own concerns, to attend much 
to those of others. Hence this extraordinary commission was never 
executed, and the plan set on foot within three years after, " for re 
voking the patent of the Massachusetts," proved abortive. Literary 
correspondence inimical to the province commenced with Archbishop 
Laud in 1638. But in the pious language of our fathers, "the Lord 
delivered them from the oppressor," " against all men s expectations 
they were encouraged, and much blame and disgrace fell upon their 
adversaries," Yet notwithstanding " a spirit full of malignity against 
the country (not very long after) much endangered both its civil and 
religious liberties." 

More than a century ago, "the great privileges of New England 
were matter of envy;" and, accordingly, complaints multiplied to 
Cromwell, no doubt for the benevolent purpose of abridging (what 
were called) English liberties. "All attempts to the prejudice of the 
colony, being to no purpose" with the Protector, the adversaries of 
the province were despondent, until the restoration of Charles II 
gave new hopes; when "petitions and complaints were preferred 
against the colony to the King in council, and to the Parliament." 

"False friends and open enemies" now became the terror of the 
country while new foes brought new charges to render it obnoxious. 
" The great men and natives of the country, made their complaints 
also to the King." The consequences were such as might be ex 
pected. " Four persons were sent over from England, the one of 
them the known and professed enemy of the country, with such ex 
traordinary powers (that our ancestors with grief complain), they were 
to be subjected to the arbitrary pov/er of strangers proceeding not by 
any established law, but their own discretion.." How astonishingly 
uniform, how cruelly consistent has been the conduct of Britain from 
that day to the present? 

Amid all these severe trials, the inhabitants of New England con 
ducted with a virtue and piety worthy remembrance and imitation 
" They appealed to God, they came not into this wilderness to see) 
great things for themselves, but for the sake of a poor and quiet life. 
They testified to their sovereign, that "their liberties were dearer to 
them than their lives." " Evil minded men continue, however, to 
misrepresent them," and what is almost incredible, the distresses ot 
the colony, during a war, which excited compassion in some, yet these 
very distresses were improved by others to render the colony more 

Although " this is certain, that as the colony was at first settled so 
it was preserved from ruin without any charge to the mother country; 
yet in the height of the distress of war, "and whilst the authority 


of the colony was contending with the natives for the posses 
sion of the soil; complaints were making in England which struck 
at the powers of government." With what ferocity have Americans 
been pursued from the earliest times ? That demon of malevolence, 
which went forth at the beginning, still spirits up our adversaries, and 
persecutes the country with unabated malice. 

" Randolph, who, the people of New England said, went up and 
down seeking to devour them," was the next active emissary against 
the province. " He was incessant and open in endeavoring the alter 
ation of the constitution." In his open enmity, he appears far less 
odious than those xvho have been equally inimical and equally inde 
fatigable to the same purpose, with more cowardice, dissimulation, 
and hypocrisy. Eight voyages were made across the Atlantic in the 
course of nine years by this inverate spirit, with hostile intentions to 
the government. Nor will it be surprising to find him thus expose 
his life upon the ocean, when such services acquired " new powers." 
Have we not seen, in our own day, a similar policy adopted and the 
same object operating as a motive to the like execrable conduct ? 
Such has been the strange though unhappily consistent conduct of 
our mother country, that she has laid temptations and given rewards 
and stipends to those who have slandered and betrayed her own 
children. Incited probably by the same motive, Cranfield rose up as 
in league with Randolph, and " infamously represented the colony as 
rogues and rebels." 

Libels and conspiracies of this nature called for the interposition of 
authority: express laws were enacted for the prevention of like 
treasonable practices for the future, and, death being deemed the 
proper punishment for an enemy to his country, traitors to the con 
stitution were to suffer that penalty. Thus a "conspiracy to invade 
the commonwealth, or any treacherous attempt to alter and subvert 
fundamentally the frame of polity and government, was made a 
capital offence." Did our laws now contain a like provision, public 
conspirators and elevated parricides would tremble for their heads, 
who do not shudder at the enormity of their crimes. There are char 
acters in society so devoid of virtue and endued with ferocity that 
nothing but sanguinary laws can restrain their wickedness. Even the 
distress and cries of their native country excite no compassion; rever 
ence for fathers and affection for children cause no reluctance at 
measures which stain the glorious lineage of their ancestors with 
infamy, and blast their spreading progeny with oppression. That 
emanation from the Deity, which creates them intelligents, seems to 
cease its operation, and the tremendous idea of a God and futurity, 
excites neither repentance or reformation. 

Thus, my countrymen, from the days of Gardiner and Moreton, 
Georges and Mason, Randolph and Cranfield, down to the present 
day, the inhabitants of this northern region have constantly been in 

JO SI A II QULVCl r , JR. 83 

danger and troubles from foes open and secret, abroad and in their 
bosom. Our freedom has been the object of envy, and to make void 
the charter of our liberties the work and labor of an undiminished 
race of villains. One cabal having failed of success, new conspirators 
have rose, and, what the first could not make "void," the next 
humbly desired to revoke." To this purpose one falsehood after 
another hath been fabricated and spread abroad with equal turpitude 
and equal effrontery. That minute detail, which would present actors 
now on the stage, is the province of history. She, inexorably severe 
towards the eminently guilty, will delineate their characters with the 
point of a diamond; and, thus blazoned in the face of day, the abhor- 
ence and execrations of mankind will consign them to an infamous 

So great has been the credulity of the British court, from the begin 
ning, or such hath been the activity of false brethren, that no tale 
inimical to the Northern colonies, however false or absurd, but what 
hath found credit with administration, and operated to the prejudice 
of the country. Thus it was told and believed in England, that we 
were not in earnest in the expedition against Canada at the beginning 
of this century, and that the country did everything in its power to 
defeat the success of it, and that the misfortune of that attempt ought 
to be wholly attributed to the northern colonies. While nothing 
could be more obvious than that New England had exhausted her 
youngest blood and all her treasures in the undertaking, and that 
every motive of self-preservation, happiness, and safety, must have 
operated to excite these provinces to the most spirited and persevering 
measures against Canada. 

The people who are attacked by bad men have a testimony of their 
merit, as the constitution which is invaded by powerful men, hath an 
evidence of its value. The path of our duty needs no minute delinea 
tion it lies level to the eye. Let us apply, then, like men sensible of 
its importance and determined on its fulfillment. The inroads upon 
our public liberty call for reparation; the wrongs we have sustained 
call for justice. That reparation and that justice may yet be ob 
tained by union, spirit, and firmness. But to divide and conquer was 
the maxim of the devil in the garden of Eden and to disunite and 
enslave hath been the principle of all his votaries from that period to 
the present. The crimes of the guilty are to them the cords of asso 
ciation and dread of punishment, the indissoluble bond of union. 
The combinations of public robbers ought, therefore, to cement 
patriots and heroes; and, as the former plot and conspire to under 
mine and destroy the commonwealth, the latter ought to form a 
compact for opposition a band of vengeance. 

What insidious arts, and what detestable practices have been used 
to deceive, disunite, and enslave the good people of this continent t 
The mystical appellations of loyalty and allegiance, the venerable 


names of government and good order, and the sacred ones of piety 
and public virtue, have been alternately prostituted to that abominable 
purpose. All the windings and guises, subterfuges, and doublings, 
of which the human soul is susceptible, have been displayed on the 
occasion. But secrets which were thought impenetrable are no longer 
hid; characters deeply disguised are openly revealed; the discovery of 
gross imposters hath generally preceded, but a short time, their utter 

Be not again, my countrymen, " easily captivated with the appear 
ances only of wisdom and piety professions of a regard to liberty 
and of a strong attachment to the publick interest." Your fathers 
have been explicitly charged with this folly by one of their posterity. 
Avoid this and all similar errors. Be cautious against the deception 
of appearances. By their fruits ye shall know them, was the saying 
of One who perfectly knew the human heart. Judge of affairs which 
concern social happiness by facts. Judge of man by his deeds. For 
it is very certain that pious zeal for days and times, for mint and 
cummin, hath often been pretended by those who were infidels at 
bottom; and, it is as certain, that attachment to the dignity of govern 
ment and the king s service hath often flowed from the mouths of men 
who harbored the darkest machinations against the true end of the 
former, and were destitute of every right principle of loyalty to the 
latter. Hence, then, ca re and circumspection are necessary branches 
of political duty And as "it is much easier to restrain liberty from 
running into licentiousness than power from swelling into tyranny 
and oppression;" so much more caution and resistance are required 
against the overbearing of rulers than the extravagance of the people. 

To give no more authority to any order of state, and to place no 
greater public confidence in any man, than is necessary for the general 
welfare, may be considered by the people as an important point of 
policy. But though craft and hypocrisy are prevalent, yet piety and 
virtue have a real existence; duplicity and political imposture abound, 
yet benevolence and public spirit are not altogether banished by the 
world. As wolves will appear in sheep s clothing, so superlative 
knaves and parricides will assume the vesture of the man of virtue 
and patriotism. 

These things are permitted by Providence, no doubt, for wise and 
good reasons. Man was created a rational, and was designed for an 
active being. His faculties of intelligence and force were given him 
for use. When the wolf, therefore, is found devouring the flock, no hier 
archy forbids a seizure of the victim for sacrifice; so also, when digni 
fied impostors are caught destroying those, whom their arts deceived 
and their stations destined them to protect, the sabre of justice 
flashes righteousness at the stroke of execution. 

Yet be not amused, my countrymen! the extirpation of bondage, 
and the re-establishment of freedom are not of easy acquisition. The 


worst passions of the human heart, and the most subtle projects of the 
human mind are leagued against you; and principalities and powers 
have acceded to the combination. Trials and conflicts you must, 
therefore, endure; hazards and jeopardies of life and fortune will 
attend the struggle. Such is the fate of all noble exertions for public 
liberty and social happiness. Enter not the lists without thought and 
consideration, lest you arm with timidity and combat with irresolu 
tion. Having engaged in the conflict, let nothing discourage your 
vigor, or repel your perseverance: Remember, that submission to 
the yoke of bondage is the worst that that can befall a people after 
the most fierce and unsuccessful resistance. What can the misfortune 
of vanquishment take away, which despotism and rapine would spare ? 
It had been easy (said the great law-giver Solon to the Athenians), 
to repress the advances of tyranny, and prevent its establishment, but 
now it is established and grown to some height it would be more 
glorious to demolish it. But nothing glorious is accomplished, noth 
ing great is attained, nothing valuable is secured without magnanimity 
of mind and devotion of heart to the service Brutus-like, therefore, 
dedicate yourselves at this day to the service of your country; and 
henceforth live a life of liberty and glory. " On the ides of March" 
(said the great and good man to his friend Cassius, just before the 
battle of Philippi), "On the ides of March I devoted my life to my 
country, and since that time, I have lived a life of liberty and glory." 
Inspired with public virtue, touched with the wrongs and indignant 
at the insults offered his country, the high-spirited Cassius exhibits an 
heroic example: " Resolved as we are" (replies the hero to his 
friend), "resolved as we are, let us march against the enemy, for 
though we should not conquer, we have nothing to fear." 


Boston, March 5, 1774. 

Vendidit hie auro, patriam, dominumque potentem 
Imposuit: fixit leges pretio atque refixit. 
Non, mihi si linguae centum sint, oraque centum, 
Ferrea vox, omnes scelerum: comprendere formas, 

possim. Virg, 

tive gravity, the venerable appearance of this crowded audience; the 
dignity which I behold in the countenances of so many in this great 
assembly; the solemnity of the occasion upon which we have met to 
gether, joined to a consideration of the part I am to take in the im 
portant business of this day, fill me with an awe hitherto unknown; 


and heighten the sense which I have ever had, of my unworthiness to 
fill this sacred desk; but allured by the call of some of my respected 
fellow-citizens, with whose request it is always my greatest pleasure 
to comply, I almost forgot my want of ability to perform what they 
required. In this situation I find my only support, in assuring myself 
that a generous people will not severely censure what they know was 
well intended, though its want of merit, should prevent their being 
able to applaud it. And I pray, that my sincere attachment to the 
interest of my country, and hearty detestation of every design formed 
against her liberties, may be admitted as some apology, for my ap 
pearance in this place. 

I have always, from my earliest youth, rejoiced in the felicity of my 
fellow-men; and have ever considered it as the indispensable duty of 
every member of society to promote, as far as in him lies, the pros 
perity of every individual, but more especially of the community to 
which he belongs, and also, as a faithful subject of the state, to use 
his utmost endeavors to detect, and having detected, strenuously to 
oppose every traitorous plot which its enemies may devise for its de> 
struction. Security to the persons and properties of the governed, is 
so obviously the design and end of civil government, that to attempt 
a logical proof of it, would be like burning tapers at noonday, to 
assist the sun in enlightening the world; and it cannot be either 
virtuous or honorable, to attempt to support a government, of which 
this is not the great and principal basis; and it is to the last degree 
vicious and infamous to attempt to support a government, which 
manifestly tends to render the persons and properties of the governed 
insecure. Some boast of being friends to government; I am a friend 
to righteous government founded upon the principles of reason and 
justice; but I glory in publicly avowing my eternal enmity to tyranny. 
Is the present system, which the British administration have adopted 
for the government of the colonies, a righteous government? or is it 
tyranny? Here suffer me to ask (and would to Heaven there could 
be an answer) what tenderness, what regard, respect or consideration 
has Great Britain shown, in their late transactions, for the security of 
the persons or properties of the inhabitants of the colonies ? or rather, 
what have they omitted doing to destroy that security ? they have de 
clared that they have, ever had, and of right ought ever to have, full 
power to make laws of sufficient validity to bind the colonies in all 
cases whatever: they have exercised this pretended right by imposing 
a tax upon us without our consent; and lest we should show some re 
luctance at parting with our property, her fleets and armies are sent 
to enforce their mad pretensions. The town of Boston, ever faithful 
to the British crown, has been invested by a British fleet: the troops 
of George the III. hare crossed the wide Atlantic, not to engage an 
enemy, but to assist a band of traitors in trampling on the rights and 
liberties of his most loyal subjects in America those rights and liber- 


ties which, as a father, he ought ever to regard, and as a king, he is 
bound, in honor, to defend from violations, even at the risk of his 
own life. 

Let not the history of the illustrious House of Brunswick inform 
posterity, that a king descended from that glorious monarch, George 
the II. once sent his British subjects to conquer and enslave his sub 
jects in America, but be perpetual infamy entailed upon that villain 
who dared to advise his master to such execrable measures; for it was 
easy to forsee the consequences which so naturally followed upon 
sending troops into America, to enforce obedience to acts of the 
British Parliament, which neither God nor man ever empowered them 
to make. It was reasonable to expect that troops, who knew the 
errand they were sent upon, would treat the people whom they were 
to subjugate, with a cruelty and haughtiness, which too often buries 
the honorable character of a soldier in the disgraceful name of an un 
feeling ruffian. The troops, upon their first arrival, took possession 
of our senate-house, and pointed their cannon against the judgment 
hall, and even continued them there whilst the supreme court of judi 
cature for this province was actually sitting to decide upon the lives 
and fortunes of the king s subjects. Our streets nightly resounded 
with the noise of riot and debauchery: our peaceful citizens were 
hourly exposed to shameful insults, and often felt the effects of their 
violence and outrage. But this was not all: as though they thought 
it not enough to violate our civil rights, they endeavored to deprive 
us of the enjoyment of our religious privileges; to vitiate our morals, 
and thereby render us deserving of destruction. Hence the rude din 
of arms which broke in upon your solemn devotions in your temples, 
on that day hallowed by heaven, and set apart by God himself for his 
peculiar worship. Hence, impious oaths and blasphemies so often 
tortured your unaccustomed ear. Hence, all the arts which idleness 
and luxury could invent, were used to betray our youth of ons sex 
into extravagance and effeminacy, and of the other to infamy and ruin; 
and did they not succeed but too well ? did not a reverence for religion 
sensibly decay? did not our infants almost learn to lisp out curses be 
fore they knew their horrid import ? did not our youth forget they 
were Americans, and regardless of the admonitions of the wise and 
aged, servilely copy from their tyrants those vices which finally must 
overthrow the empire of Great Britain? and must I be compelled to 
acknowledge, that even the noblest, fairest part of all the lower crea 
tion did not entirely escape the cursed snare? when virtue has once 
erected her throne within the female breast, it is upon so solid a basis 
that nothing is able to expel the heavenly inhabitant. But have there 
not been some, few indeed. I hope, whose youth and inexperience 
have rendered them a prey to wretches, whom, upon the least reflec- 
lian, they would have despised and hated as foes to God and their 
country? I fear there have been some such unhappy instances; or 
A. P.-4. 


why have I seen an honest father clothed with shame, or why a virtu 
ous mother drowned in tears ? 

But I forbear, and come reluctantly to the transaction of that dismal 
night, when in such quick succession we felt the extremes of grief, as- 
toni. hment and rage; when Heaven in anger, for a dreadful moment 
suffered hell to take the reins; when Satan with his chosen band opened 
the sluices of New England s blood, and sacrilegiously polluted our 
land with the dead bodies of her guiltless sons. Let this sad tale of 
death never be told without a tear; let not the heaving bosom cease to 
burn with a manly indignation at the barbarous story, through the long 
tracts of future time: let every parent tell the shameful story to his 
listening children till tears of pity glisten in their eyes, and boiling 
passions shake their tender frames; and whilst the anniversary of that 
ill-fated night is kept a jubilee in the grim court of pandasmonium, let 
all America join in one common prayer to heaven, that the inhuman, 
unprovoked murders of the fifth of March, 1770, planned by Hillsbor- 
ough, and a knot of treacherous knaves in Boston, and executed by 
the cruel hand of Preston and his sanguinary coadjutors, may ever 
stand on history without a parallel. But what, my countrymen, with 
held the ready arm of vengeance from executing instant justice on the 
vile assassins ? perhaps you feared promiscuous carnage might ensue, 
and that the innocent might share the fate of those who had performed 
the infernal deed. But were not all guilty? were you not too tender 
of the lives of those who came to fix a yoke on your necks? but I must 
not too severely blame a fault, which great souls only can commit. 
May that magnificence of spirit which scorns the low pursuits of malice, 
may that generous compassion which often preserves from ruin, even 
a guilty villain, forever actuate the noble bosoms of Americans! But 
let not the miscreant host vainly imagine that we feared their arms. 
No; them we despised; we dread nothing but slavery. Death is the 
creature of a poltroon s brains; tis immortality to sacrifice ourselves 
for the salvation of our country. We fear not death. That gloomy 
night, the pale faced moon, and the affrighted stars that hurried 
through the sky, can witness that we fear not death. Our hearts which, 
at the recollection, glow with rage that four revolving years have 
scarcely taught us to restrain, can witness that we fear not death; and 
happy it is for those who dared to insult us, that their naked bones are 
now piled up an everlasting monument of Massachusetts bravery. 
But they retired, they fled, and in that flight they found their only 
safety. We then expected that the hand of public justice would soon 
inflict that punishment upon the murderers, which, by the laws of God 
and man, they had incurred. But let the unbiassed pen of a Robert 
son, or perhaps of some equally famed American, conduct this trial 
before the great tribunal of succeeding generations. And though the 
murderers may escape the just resentment of an enraged people; 
though drowsy justice, intoxicated by the poisonous draught prepared 


for her cup, still nods upon her rotten seat, yet be assured, such com 
plicated crimes will meet their due reward. Tell me, ye bloody butch 
ers! ye villains high and low! ye wretches who contrived, as well as 
you who executed the inhuman deed! do you not feel the goads and 
stings of conscious guilt pierce through your savage bosoms ? though 
some of you may think yourselves exalted to a height that bids defiance 
to human justice, and others shroud yourselves beneath the mask of 
hypocrisy, and build your hopes of safety on the low arts of cunning, 
chicanery and falsehood; yet do you not sometimes feel the gnawing 
of that worm which never dies? do not the injured shades of Maverick, 
Gray, Caldwell, Attucks and Carr, attend you in your solitary walks, 
arrest you even in the midst of your debaucheries, and fill even your 
dreams with terror? but if the unappeased manes of the dead should 
not disturb their murderers, yet surely even your obdurate hearts must 
shrink, and your guilty blood must chill within your rigid veins, when 
you behold the miserable Monk, the wretched victim of your savage 
cruelty. Observe his tottering knees, which scarce sustain his wasted 
body; look on his haggard eyes; mark well the death-like paleness on 
his fallen cheek, and tell me, does not the sight plant daggers in your 
souls? unhappy Monk! cut off in the gay morn of manhood, from all 
the joys which sweeten life, doomed to drag on a pitiful existence, 
without even a hope to taste the pleasures of returning health! yet 
Monk, thou livest not in vain; thou livest a warning to thy country, 
which sympathizes with thee in thy sufferings; thou livest an affecting, 
an alarming instance of the unbounded violence which lust of power, 
assisted by a standing army, can lead a traitor to commit. 

For us he bled, and now languishes. The wounds by which he is 
tortured to a lingering death, were aimed at our country! surely the 
meek-eyed charity can never behold such sufferings with indifference. 
Nor can her lenient hand forbear to pour oil and wine into these 
wounds, and to assuage at least, what it cannot heal. 

Patriotism is ever united with humanity and compassion. This 
noble affection which impels us to sacrifice everything dear, even life 
itself, to our country, involves in it a common sympathy and tender 
ness for every citizen, and must ever have a particular feeling for one 
who suffers in a public cause. Thoroughly persuaded of this, I need 
not add a word to engage your compassion and bounty towards a fel 
low citizen, who, with long protracted anguish, falls a victim to the 
relentless rage of our common enemies. 

Ye dark designing knaves, ye murderers, parricides! how dare you 
tread upon the earth, which has drank in the blood of slaughtered in 
nocents, shed by your wicked hands? how dare you breathe that air 
which wafted to the ear of heaven, the groans of those who fell a sacri 
fice to your accursed ambition? but if the laboring earth doth not 
expand her jaws; if the air you breathe is not commissioned to be the 
minister of death yet hear it, and tremble! the eye of heaven penetrates 


the darkest chambers of the soul, traces the leading clue through all 
the labyrinths which your industrious folly has devised; and you, how 
ever you may have screened yourselves from human eyes, must be 
arraigned, must lift your hands, red with the blood of those whose 
death you have procured, at the tremendous bar of God. 

But I gladly quit the gloomy theme of death, and leave you to im 
prove the thought of that important day, when our naked souls must 
stand before that being, from whom nothing can be hid. I would net 
dwell too long upon the horrid effects which have already followed 
from quartering regular troops in this town; let our misfortunes teach 
posterity to guard against such evils for the future. Standing armies 
are sometimes (I would by no means say generally, much less univer 
sally) composed of persons who have rendered themselves unfit to live 
in civil society; who have no other motives of conduct than those 
which a desire of the present gratification of their passions suggests; 
who have no property in any country; men who have given up their 
own liberties, and envy those who enjoy liberty; who are equally indif 
ferent to the glory of a George or a Louis; who for the addition of one 
penny a day to their wages, would desert from the Christian cross, 
and fight under the crescent of the Turkish sultan, from such men as 
these, what has not a state to fear ? with such as these, usurping Caesar 
passed the Rubicon; with such as these he humbled mighty Rome, and 
forced the mistress of the world to own a master in a traitor. These 
are the men whom sceptered robbers now employ to frustrate the de 
signs of God, and render vain the bounties which his gracious hand 
pours indiscriminately upon his creatures. By these the miserable 
slaves in Turkey, Persia, and many other extensive countries, are 
rendered truly wretched, though their air is salubrious, and their soil 
luxuriously fertile. By these France and Spain, though blessed by 
nature with all that administers to the convenience of life, have been 
reduced to that contemptible state in which they now appear; and by 
these Britain but if I was possessed of the gift of pro 
phecy, I dare not, except by divine command, unfold the leaves on 
which the destiny of that once powerful kingdom is inscribed. 

But, since standing armies are so hurtful to a state, perhaps my 
countrymen may demand some substitute, some other means of 
rendering us secure against the incursions of a foreign enemy. But 
can you be one moment at a loss ? will not a well disciplined militia 
afford you ample security against foreign foes? we want not courage; 
it is discipline alone in which we are exceeded by the most formidable 
troops that ever trod the earth. Surely our hearts flutter no more at 
the sound of war than did those of the immortal band of Persia, the 
Macedonian phalanx, the invincible Roman legions, the Turkish 
Janissaries, the Gens des Armes of France, or the well-known grena 
diers of Britain. A well disciplined militia is a safe, an honorable 
guard to a community like this, whose inhabitants are by nature 


brave, and are laudably tenacious of that freedom in which they were 
born. From a well regulated militia we have nothing to fear; their 
interest is the same with that of the state. When a country is in 
vaded, the militia are ready to appear in its defence; they march into 
the field with that fortitude which a consciousness of the justice of 
their cause inspires; they do not jeopard their lives for a master who 
considers them only as the instruments of his ambition, and whom they 
regard only as the daily dispenser of the scanty pittance of bread and 
water. No, they fight for their houses, their lands, for their wives, 
their children, for all who claim the tenderest names, and are held 
dearest in their hearts, they fight pro aris et focis, for their liberty, and 
for themselves, and for their God. And let it not offend, if I say, 
that no militia ever appeared in more flourishing condition, than that 
of this province now doth; and, pardon me if I say of this town in 
particular I mean not to boast; I would not excite envy, but manly 
emulation. We have all one common cause; let it therefore be our 
only contest, who shall most contribute to the security of the liberties 
of America. And may the same kind Providence which has watched 
over this country from her infant state, still enable us to defeat our 
enemies. I cannot here forbear noticing the signal manner in which 
the designs of those who wish not well to us have been discovered. 
The dark deeds of a treacherous cabal have been brought to public 
view. You now know the serpents who, while cherished in your 
bosoms, were darting their envenomed stings into the vitals of the 
constitution. But the representatives of the people have fixed a mark 
on these ungrateful monsters, which, though it may not make them 
so secure as Cain of old, yet renders them at least as infamous. In 
deed it would be affrontive to the tutelar deity of this country even to 
despair of saving it from all the snares which human policy can lay. 

True it is, that the British ministry have annexed a salary to the 
office of the governor of this province, to be paid out of a revenue, 
raised in America without our consent. They have attempted to 
render our courts of justice the instruments of extending the autho 
rity of acts of the British Parliament over this colony, by making the 
judges dependent on the British administration for their support. 
But this people will never be enslaved with their eyes open. The 
moment they knew that the governor was not such a governor as the 
charter of the province points out, he lost his power of hurting them. 
They were alarmed; they suspected him, have guarded against him, 
and he has found that a wise and a brave people, when they know 
their danger, are fruitful in expedients to escape it. 

The courts of judicature also so far lost their dignity, by being sup 
posed to be under an undue influence, that our representatives 
thought it absolutely necessary to resolve that they were bound to 
declare that they would not receive any other salary besides" that 
which the general court should grant them; and, if they did not make 


this declaration, that it would be the duty of the house to impeach 

Great expectations were also formed from the artful scheme of 
allowing the East India company to export tea to America, upon their 
own account. This, certainly, had it succeeded, would have effected 
the purpose of the contrivers and gratified the most sanguine wishes 
of our adversaries. We soon should have found our trade in the 
hands of foreigners, and taxes imposed on everything which we con 
sumed; nor would it have been strange, if, in a few years, a company 
in London should have purchased an exclusive right of trading to 
America. But their plot was soon discovered. The people soon 
were aware of the poison which, with so much craft and subtilty, had 
been concealed: loss and disgrace ensued: and, perhaps, this long. 
concerted master-piece of policy may issue in the total disuse of tea 
in this country, which will eventually be the saving of the lives and 
the estates of thousands yet while we rejoice that the adversary has 
not hitherto prevailed against us, let us by no means put off the 
harness. Restless malice, and disappointed ambition, will still sug 
gest new measures to our inveterate enemies. Therefore let us also 
be ready to take the field whenever danger calls; let us be united and 
strengthen the hands of each other by promoting a general union 
among us. Much has been done by the committees of correspond 
ence, for this and the other towns of this province, towards uniting 
the inhabitants; let them still go on and prosper. Much has been 
done, by the committees of correspondence, for the houses of assem 
bly, in this and our sister colonies, for uniting the inhabitants of the 
whole continent, for the security of their common interest. May suc 
cess ever attend their generous endeavors. But permit me here to 
suggest a general congress of deputies, from the several houses of 
assembly on the continent, as the most effectual method of establish 
ing such an union as the present posture of our affairs require. At 
such a congress a firm foundation may be laid for the security of our 
rights and liberties, a system may be formed for our common safety, 
by a strict adherence to which we shall be able to frustrate any at 
tempts to overthrow our constitution, restore peace and harmony to 
America, and secure honor and wealth to Great Britain, even against 
the inclinations of her ministers, whose duty it is to study her wel 
fare; and we shall also free ourselves from those unmannerly pillagers 
who impudently tell us that they are licensed by an act of the British 
Parliament to thrust their dirty hands into the pockets of every 
American. But, I trust, the happy time will come, when, with the 
besom of destruction, those noxious vermin will be swept forever from 
the streets of Boston. 

Surely you never will tamely suffer this country to be a den of 
thieves. Remember, my friends, from whom you sprang. Let not 
a meanness of spirit, unknown to those whom you boast of as your 


fathers, excite a thought to the dishonor of your mothers. I conjure 
you by all that is dear, by all that is honorable, by all that is sacred, 
not only that ye pray, but that you act; that, if necessary, ye fight, 
and even die, for the prosperity of our Jerusalem. Break in sunder, 
with noble disdain, the bonds with which the Philistines have bound 
you. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed by the soft arts of luxury 
and effeminacy into the pit digged for your destruction. Despise the 
glare of wealth. That people who pay greater respect to a wealthy 
villain than to an honest upright man in poverty, almost deserve to 
be enslaved; they plainly show that wealth, however it may be ac 
quired, is, in their esteem, to be preferred to virtue. 

But I thank God that America abounds in men who are superior to 
all temptation, whom nothing can divert from a steady pursuit of the 
interest of their country, who are at once its ornament and safe-guard. 
And, sure I am, I should not incur your displeasure if I paid a respect 
so justly due to their much honored characters in this place; but, 
when I name an Adams, such a numerous host of fellow patriots rush 
upon my mind that I fear it would take up too much of your time 
should I attempt to call over the illustrious roll: but your grateful 
hearts will point you to the men; and their revered names, in all 
succeeding times, shall grace the annals of America. From them, let 
us, my friends, take example; from them, let us catch the divine en 
thusiasm, and feel, each for himself, the God-like pleasure of diffus 
ing happiness on all around us; of delivering the oppressed from the 
iron grasp of tyranny; of changing the hoarse complaints and bitter 
moans of wretched slaves into those cheerful songs, which freedom and 
contentment must inspire. There is a heart-felt satisfaction in reflect 
ing on our exertions for the public weal, which all the sufferings an 
enraged tyrant can inflict, will never take away; which the ingratitude 
and reproaches of those whom we have saved from ruin cannot rob 
us of. The virtuous asserter of the rights of mankind merits a reward 
which even a want of success in his endeavors to save his country, 
the heaviest misfortune which can befal a genuine patriot, cannot en 
tirely prevent him from receiving. 

I have the most animating confidence that the present noble struggle 
for liberty will terminate gloriously for America. And let us play the 
man for our God, and for the cities of our God; while we are using 
the means in our power, let us humbly commit our righteous cause 
to the great Lord of the universe, who loveth righteousness and 
hateth iniquity. And, having secured the approbation of our hearts 
by a faithful and unwearied discharge of our duty to our country, let 
us joyfully leave our concerns in the hands of Him who raiseth up and 
putteth down the empires and kingdoms of the world as He pleases; 
and, with cheerful submission to His sovereign will, devoutly say: 

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in 
the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the field shall yield no 


meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no 
herd in the stalls; yet we will rejoice in the Lord, we will joy in the 
God of our salvation." 



Philadelphia^ June 15, 1775. 

Forasmuch as the enemies of America in the Parliament of Great 
Britain, to render us odious to the nation, and give an ill impression 
of us in the minds of other European powers, having represented us 
as unjust and ungrateful in the highest degree; asserting, on every 
occasion, that the colonies were settled at the expense of Britain; that 
they were, at the expense of the same, protected in their infancy; that 
they now ungratefully and unjustly refuse to contribute to their own 
protection, and the common defence of the nation; that they intend 
an abolition of the Navigation Acts; and that they are fraudulent in 
their commercial dealings, and propose to cheat their creditors in 
Britain, by avoiding the payment of their just debts; 

And, as by frequent repetitions these groundless assertions and 
malicious calumnies may, if not contradicted and refuted, obtain fur 
ther credit, and be injurious throughout Europe to the reputation and 
interest of the confederate colonies, it seems proper and necessary to 
examine them in our own just vindication. 

With regard to the first, that the colonies were settled at the expense 
of Britain, it is a known fact, that none of the twelve united colonies 
were settled, or even discovered, at the expense of England. Henry 
the Seventh, indeed, granted a commission to Sebastian Cabot, a 
Venetian, and his sons, to sail into western seas for the discovery of 
new countries; but it was to be " suis eorum propriis sumptibus et ex- 
pensis" at their own cost and charges. They discovered, but soon 
slighted and neglected these northern territories; which were, after 
more than a hundred years dereliction, purchased of the natives, and 
settled at the charge and by the labor of private men and bodies of 
men, our ancestors, who came over hither for that purpose. But our 
adversaries have never been able to produce any record, that ever the 
Parliament or government of England was at the smallest expense on 
these accounts; on the contrary, there exists on the journals of Par 
liament a solemn declaration in 1642 (only twenty-two years after the 
first settlement of the Massachusetts, when, if such expense had ever 
been incurred, some of the members must have known and remem 
bered it), "That these colonies had been planted and established 
without any expense to the state. 1 


New York is the only colony in the founding of which England can 
pretend to have been at any expense; and that was only the charge of 
a small armament to take it from the Dutch, who planted it. But to 
retain this colony at the peace, another at that time fully as valuable, 
planted by private countrymen of ours, was given up by the Crown 
to the Dutch in exchange, viz., Surinam, now a wealthy sugar colony 
in Guiana, and which, but for that cession, might still have remained 
in our possession. Of late, indeed, Britain has been at some expense 
in planting two colonies, Georgia and Nova Scotia; but those are not 
in our confederacy; and the expense, she has been at in their name 
has chiefly been in grants of sums unnecessarily large, by way of 
salaries to officers sent from England, and in jobs to friends, whereby 
dependants might be provided for; those excessive grants not being 
requisite to the welfare and good government of the colonies, which 
good government (as experience in many instances of other colonies 
has taught us) may be much more frugally, and full as effectually, 
provided for and supported. 

With regard to the second assertion, that these colonies were protected 
in their infant state by England, it is a notorious fact, that, in none of 
the many wars with the Indian natives, sustained by our infant settle 
ments for a century after our arrival, were ever any troops or forces 
of any kind sent from England to assist us; nor were any forts built 
at her expense, to secure our seaports from foreign invaders; nor any 
ships of war sent to protect our trade till many years after our first 
settlement, when our commerce become an object of revenue, or of 
advantage to British merchants; and then it was thought necessary to 
have a frigate in some of our ports, during peace, to give weight to 
the authority of custom-house officers, who were to restrain that com 
merce for the benefit of England. Our own arms, with our poverty, 
and the care of a kind Providence, were all this time our only protec 
tion; while we were neglected by the English government; which 
either thought us not worth its care, or, having no good will to some 
of us, on account of our different sentiments in religion and politics, 
was indifferent what became of us. 

On the other hand, the colonies have not been wanting to do what 
they could in every war for annoying the enemies of Britain. They 
formerly assisted her in the conquest of Nova Scotia. In the war be 
fore last they took Louisburg, and put it into her hands. She made 
her peace with that strong fortress, by restoring it to France, greatly 
to their detriment. In the last war, it is true, Britain sent a fleet and 
army, who acted with an equal army of ours, in the reduction of 
Canada; and perhaps thereby did more for us, than we in our pre 
ceding wars had done for her. Let it be remembered, however, that 
she rejected the plan we formed in the Congress at Albany, in 1754, 
for out own defence, by a union of the colonies; a union she was jealous 
of, and therefore chose to send her own forces; otherwise her aid to 


protect us was not wanted. And from our first settlement to that 
time, her military operations in our favor were small, compared with 
the advantages she drew from her exclusive commerce with us. We 
are, however, willing to give full weight to this obligation; and, as 
we are daily growing stronger, and our assistance to her becomes of 
more importance, we should with pleasure embrace the first oppor 
tunity of showing our gratitude by returning the favor in kind. 

But, when Britain values herself as affording us protection, we de 
sire it may be considered, that we have followed her in all her wars, 
and joined with her at our own expense against all she thought fit to 
quarrel with. This she has required of us; and would never permit us 
to keep peace with any power she declared her enemy; though by 
separate treaties we might have done it. Under such circumstances, 
when at her instance we made nations our enemies, we submit it to the 
common sense of mankind, whether her protection of us in those wars 
was not our just due, and to be claimed of right, instead of being re 
ceived as a favor? And whether, when all the parts exert themselves 
to do the utmost in their common defence, and in annoying the common 
enemy, it is not as well the parts that protect the whole, as the whole 
that protects the parts? The protection then has been proportion- 
ably mutual. And, whenever the time shall come, that our abilities 
may as far exceed hers as hers have exceeded ours, we hope we shall 
be reasonable enough to rest satisfied with her proportionable exer 
tions, and not think we do too much for a part of the empire, when 
that part does as much as it can for the whole. 

To charge against us, that we refuse to contribute to our own protection, 
appears from the above to be groundless; but we farther declare it to 
be absolutely false; for it is well known, that we ever held it as our 
duty to grant aids to the Crown, upon requisition, towards carrying 
on its wars; which duty we have cheerfully complied with, to the 
utmost of our abilities; insomuch that prudent and grateful acknowl 
edgments thereof by King and Parliament, appear on the records. 
But, as Britain has enjoyed a most gainful monopoly of our commerce; 
the same, with our maintaining the dignity of the King s representa 
tive in each colony, and all our own separate establishments of govern 
ment, civil and military; has ever hitherto been deemed an equivalent 
for such aids as might otherwise be expected from us in time of peace. 
And we hereby declare, that on a reconciliation with Britain, we shall 
not only continue to grant aids in time of war, as aforesaid; but, 
whenever she shall think fit to abolish her monopoly, and give us the 
same privileges of trade as Scotland received at the union, and allow 
us a free commerce with the rest of the word; we shall willingly agree 
(and we doubt not it will be ratified by our constituents) to give and 
pay into the sinking fund [one hundred thousand pounds] sterling per 
annum for the term of one hundred years, which duly, faithfully, and 
inviolably applied to that purpose, is demonstrably more than suffi- 


cient to extinguish all her present national debt; since it will in that 
time amount, at legal British interest, to more than [two hundred 
and thirty million pounds.] 

But if Britain does not think fit to accept this proposition, we, in 
order to remove her groundless jealousies, that we aim at independ 
ence and an abolition of the Navigation Act (which hath in truth 
never been our intention), and to avoid all future disputes about the 
right of making that and other acts for regulating our commerce, do 
hereby declare ourselves ready and willing to enter into a covenant 
with Britain, that she shall fully possess, enjoy, and exercise the right, 
for an hundred years to come; the same being bona fide used for the 
common benefit; and, in case of such agreement, that every Assembly 
be advised by us to confirm it solemnly by laws of their own, which, 
once made, cannot be repealed without the assent of the Crown. 

The last charge, that we are dishonest traders, and aim at defrauding 
our creditors in Britain, is sufficiently and authentically refuted by the 
solemn declarations of the British merchants to Parliament (both at 
the time of the Stamp Act and in the last session), who bore ample 
testimony to the general good faith and fair dealing of the Americans, 
and declared their confidence in our integrity; for which we refer to 
their petitions on the journals of the House of Commons. And we 
presume we may safely call on the body of the British tradesmen, who 
have had experience of both, to say, whether they have not received 
much more punctual payment from us, than they generally have from 
the members of their own two Houses of Parliament. 

On the whole of the above it appears, that the charge of ingratitude 
towards the mother country, brought with so much confidence against 
the colonies, is totally without foundation; and that there is much more 
reason for retorting that charge on Britain, who, not only never contri 
butes any aid, nor affords, by an exclusive commerce, any advantages to 
Saxony, her mother country; but no longer since than in the last war, 
without the least provocation, subsidized the King of Prussia while he 
ravaged that mother country, and carried fire and sword into its capital, 
the fine city of Dresden! An example we hope no provocation will in 
duce us to imitate. 


House of Commons, February 6, 1775. 

I am indeed surprised, that, in a business of so much moment as 
this before the House, respecting the British colonies in America, a 
cause which comprehends almost every question relative to the com 
mon rights of mankind, almost every question of policy and legislation, 


it should be resolved to proceed with so little circumspection, or rather 
with so much precipitation and heedless imprudence. With what tem 
erity are we assured, that the same men who have been so often over 
whelmed with praises for their attachment to this country, for their 
forwardness to grant it the necessary succors, for the valor they have 
signalized in its defence, have all at once so degenerated from their 
ancient manners, as to merit the appellation of seditious, ungrateful, 
impious rebels ! But if such a change has indeed been wrought in the 
minds of this most loyal people, it must at least be admitted, that affec 
tions so extraordinary could only have been produced by some very 
powerful cause. But who is ignorant, who needs to be told of the new 
madness that infatuates our ministers? who has not seen the tyran 
nical counsels they have pursued, for the last ten years ? They would 
now have us carry to the foot of the throne, a resolution stamped with 
rashness and injustice, fraught with blood, and a horrible futurity. 
But before this be allowed them, before the signal of civil war be 
given, before they are permitted to force Englishmen to sheath their 
swords in the bowels of their fellow-subjects, I hope this House will 
consider the rights of humanity, the original ground and cause of the 
present dispute. Have we justice on our side? No: assuredly no. 
He must be altogether a stranger to the British constitution, who does 
not know that contributions are voluntary gifts of the people; and 
singularly blind, not to perceive that the words "liberty and pro 
perty," so grateful to English ears, are nothing better than mockery 
and insult to the Americans, if their property can be taken without 
their consent. And what motive can there exist for this new rigor, for 
these extraordinary measures ? Have not the Americans always de 
monstrated the utmost zeal and liberality, whenever their succors have 
been required by the mother country ? 

In the two last wars, they gave you more than you asked for, and 
more than their facilities warranted: they were not only liberal towards 
you, but prodigal of their substance. They fought gallantly and vic 
toriously by your side, with equal valor, against our and their enemy, 
the common enemy of the liberties of Europe and America, the ambi 
tious and faithless French, whom now we fear and flatter. And even 
now, at a moment when you are planning their destruction, when you 
are branding them with the odious appellation of rebels, what is their 
language, what their protestations? Read, in the name of Heaven, 
the late petition of the Congress to the king; and you will find, "they 
are ready and willing, as they ever have been, to demonstrate their 
loyalty, by exerting their most strenuous efforts in granting supplies, 
and raising forces, when constitutionally required." And yet we hear 
it vociferated, by some inconsiderate individuals, that the Americans 
wish to abolish the navigation act: that they intend to throw off the 
supremacy of Great Britain. But would to God, these assertions were 
not rather a provocation than the truth ! They ask nothing, for such 


are the words of their petition, but for peare, liberty, and safety. They 
wish not a diminution of the royal prerogative; they solicit not any 
new right. They are ready, on the contrary, to defend this preroga 
tive, to maintain the royal authority, and to draw closer the bonds of 
their connection with Great Britain. But our ministers, perhaps to 
punish others for their own faults, are sedulously endeavoring, not 
only to relax these powerful ties, but to dissolve and sever them for 
ever. Their address represents the province of Massachusetts as in a 
state of actual rebellion. The other provinces are held out to our in 
dignation, as aiding and abetting. Many arguments have been em 
ployed, by some learned gentlemen among us, to comprehend them 
all in the same offence, and to involve them in the same proscription. 

Whether their present state is that of rebellion, or of a fit and just 
resistance to unlawful acts of power, to our attempts to rob them of 
their property and liberties, as they imagine, I shall not declare. But 
I well know what will follow, nor, however strange and harsh it may 
appear to some, shall I hesitate to announce it, that I may not be ac 
cused hereafter, of having failed in duty to my country, on so grave 
an occasion, and at the approach of such direful calamities. Know, 
then, a successful resistance is a revolution, not a rebellion: Rebellion, 
indeed, appears on the back of a flying enemy, but revolution flames 
on the breastplate of the victorious warrior. Who can tell, whether, 
in consequence of this day s violent and mad address to his Majesty, 
the scabbard may not be thrown away by them as well as by Us; and 
whether, in a few years, the independent Americans may not celebrate 
the glorious era of the revolution of 1775, as we do that of 1668 ? The 
generous effort of our forefathers for freedom, Heaven crowned with 
success, or their noble blood had dyed our scaffolds, like that of 
Scottish traitors and rebels; and the period of our history which 
does us the most honor, would have been deemed a rebellion against 
the lawful authority of the prince, not a resistance authorized by all 
the laws of God and man, not the expulsion of a detested tyrant. 

But suppose the Americans to combat against us with more unhappy 
auspices than we combated James, would not victory itself prove per 
nicious and deplorable ? Would it not be fatal to British as well as 
American liberty? Those armies which should subjugate the colo 
nists, would subjugate also their parent state. Marius, Sylla, Caesar, 
Augustus, Tiberius, did they not oppress Roman liberty with the same 
troops that were levied to maintain Roman supremacy over subject 
provinces? But the impulse once given, its effects extended much 
further than its authors expected; for the same soldiery that destroyed 
the Roman republic, subverted and utterly demolished the imperial 
power itself. In less than fifty years after the death of Augustus, the 
armies destined to hold the provinces in subjection, proclaimed three 
emperors at once; disposed of the empire according to their caprice, and 
raised to the throne of the Caesars the object of their momentary favor. 


I can no more comprehend the policy, than acknowledge the justice 
of your deliberations. Where is your force, what are your armies, 
how are they to be recruited, and how supported ? The single pro 
vince of Massachusetts has, at this moment, thirty thousand men, 
well trained and disciplined, and can bring, in case of emergency, 
ninety thousand into the field; and, doubt not, they will do it, when 
all that is dear is at stake, when forced to defend their liberty, and 
property against their cruel oppressors. The right honorable gentle 
man with the blue riband assures us that ten thousand of our troops 
and four Irish regiments, will make their brains turn in the head a 
little, and strike them aghast with terror? But where does the author 
of this exquisite scheme propose to send his arm) ? Boston, perhaps, 
you may lay in ashes, or it may be made a strong garrison; but the 
province will be lost to you. You will hold Boston as you hold Gib 
raltar, in the midst of a country which will not be yours; the whole 
American continent will remain in the power of your enemies. The 
ancient story of the philosopher Calanus and the Indian hide, will be 
verified; where you tread, it will be kept down; but it will rise the 
more in all other parts. Where your fleets and armies are stationed, 
the possession will be secured while they continue; but all the rest 
will be lost. In the great scale of empire, you will decline I fear, 
from the decision of this day; and the Americans will rise to inde 
pendence, to power, to all the greatness of the most renowned states; 
for they build on the solid basis of general public liberty. 

I dread the effects of the present resolution; I shudder at our injus 
tice and cruelty; I tremble for the consequences of our imprudence. 
You will urge the Americans to desperation. They will certainly de 
fend their property and liberties, with the spirit of freemen, with the 
spirit our ancestors did, and I hope we should exert on a like occasion. 
They will sooner declare themselves independent, and risk every conse 
quence of such a contest, than submit to the galling yoke which ad 
ministration is preparing for them. Recollect Philip II. king of 
Spain: remember the Seven Provinces, and the duke of Alva. It was 
deliberated, in the council of the monarch, what measures should be 
adopted respecting the Low Countries; some were disposed for clem 
ency, others advised rigor; the second prevailed. The duke of Alva 
was victorious, it is true, wherever he appeared; but his cruelties 
sowed the teeth of the serpent. The beggars of the Briel, as they 
were called by the Spaniards, who despised them as you now despise 
the Americans, were those however, who first shook the power of 
Spain to the centre. And, comparing the probabilities of success in 
the contest of that day, with the chances in that of the present, are 
they so favorable to England as they were then to Spain ? This none 
will pretend. You all know, however, the issue of that sanguinary con 
flict how that powerful empire was rent asunder, and severed forever 
into many parts. Profit, then, by the experience of the past, if you 


would ax r oid a similar fate. But you would declare the Americans 
rebels; and to your injustice and oppression, you add the most oppro 
brious language, and the most insulting scoffs. If you persist in your 
resolution, all hope of a reconciliation is extinct. The Americans will 
triumph the whole continent of North America will be dismembered 
from Great Britain, and the wide arch of the raised empire fall. But 
I hope the just vengeance of the people will overtake the authors of 
these pernicious counsels, and the loss of the first province of the 
empire be speedily followed by the loss of the heads of those ministers 
who first invented them. 



House of Lords, December 20, 1775. 

MY LORDS After m re than six weeks posession of the papers now 
before you, on a subject so momentous, at a time when the fate of this 
nation hangs on every hour, the ministry have at length condescended 
to submit, to the consideration of the House, intelligence from America, 
with which your lordships and the public have been long and fully 

The measures of last year, my lords, which have produced the 
present alarming state of America, were founded upon misrepresenta 
tion they were violent, precipitate and vindictive. The nation was 
told, that it was only a faction in Boston, which opposed all lawful 
government ; that an unwarrantable injury had been done to private 
property, for which the justice of Parliament was called upon, to order 
reparation; that the least appearance of firmness would awe the 
Americans into submission, and upon only passing the Rubicon we 
should be fine clade victor. 

That the people might choose their representatives, under the im 
pression of those misrepresentations, the Parliament was precipitately 
dissolved. Thus the nation was to be rendered instrumental in execu 
ting the vengeance of administration on that injured, unhappy, traduced 

But now, my lords, we find, that instead of suppressing the opposi 
tion of the faction at Boston, these measures have spread it over the 
whole continent. They have united that whole people, by the most 
indissoluble of all bands intolerable wrongs. The just retribution is 
an indiscriminate, unmerciful proscription of the innocent with the 
guilty, unheard and untried. The bloodless victory, is an impotent 
general, with his dishonored army, trusting solely to the pick-axe and 


the spade, for security against the just indignation of an injured and 
insulted people. 

My lords I am happy that a relaxation of my infirmities permits me 
to seize this earliest opportunity of offering my poor advice to save 
this unhappy country, at this moment tottering to its ruin. But as I 
have not the honor of access to his Majesty, I will endeavor to trans 
mit to him, through the constitutional channel of this House, my ideas 
on American business, to rescue him from the misadvice of his present 
ministers. I congratulate your lordships that that business is at last 
entered upon, by the noble lords (Lord Dartmouth) laying the papers 
before you. As I suppose your lordships are too well apprised of their 
cgntents, I hope 1 am Hot premature in submitting to you my present 
motion (reacis ih-r-. motion). I wish my lords not to lose a day in this 
urging present crisis. A^.hour now lost in allaying the ferment in 
America, may produce years of calamity: but, for my own part, I will 
?K>t $&$&rt io a moment the conduct of this mighty business from the 
first to the last, unless nailed to my bed by the extremity of sickness; 
I will give it unremitting attention: I will knock at the door of this 
sleeping, or confounded ministry, and will rouse them to a sense of 
their important danger. When I state the importance of the colonies 
to this country, and the magnitude of danger hanging over this country 
from the present plan of misadministration practised against them, I 
desire not to be understood to argue for a reciprocity of indulgence 
between England and America: I contend not for indulgence, but 
justice, to America; and I shall ever contend that the Americans owe 
obedience to us, in a limited degree; they owe obedience to our ordi 
nances of trade and navigation; but let the line be skilfully drawn 
between the objects of those ordinances, and their private, internal 
property: Let the sacredness of their property remain inviolate; let 
it be taxable only by their own consent, given in their provincial 
assemblies, else it will cease to be property. As to the metaphysical 
refinements attempting to show that the Americans are equally free 
from obedience to commercial restraints, as from taxation for revenue, 
as being unrepresented here, I pronounce them futile, frivolous and 
groundless. Property is, in its nature, single as an atom. It is indi 
visible, can belong to one only, and cannot be touched but by his 
own consent. The law that attempts to alter this disposal of it anni 
hilates it. 

When I urge this measure for recalling the troops from Boston, I 
urge it on this pressing principle that it is necessarily preparatory to 
the restoration of your prosperity. It will then appear that you are 
disposed to treat amicably and equitably, and to consider, revise and 
repeal, if it should be found necessary, as I affirm it will, those violent 
acts and declarations which have disseminated confusion throughout 
your empire. Resistance to your acts, was as necessary as it was 
just; and your vain declarations of the omnipotence of Parliament, 


and your imperious doctrines of the necessity of submission, will be 
found equally impotent to convince or enslave your fellow subjects in 
America, who feel that tyranny, whether ambitioned by an individual 
part of the legislature, or by the bodies which compose it, is equally 
intolerable to British principles. 

As to the means of enforcing this thraldom, they are found to be as 
ridiculous and weak in practice, as they were unjust in principle: In 
deed I cannot but feel, with the most anxious sensibility, for the situa 
tion of General Gage and the troops under his command; thinking 
him, as I do, a man of humanity and understanding, and entertaining, 
as I ever shall, the highest respect, the warmest love, for the British 
troops. Their situation is truly unworthy, pent up, pining in inglori 
ous inactivity. They are an army of impotence. You may call them 
an army of safety and of guard; but they are in truth an army of im 
potence and contempt and to render the folly equal to the disgrace, 
they are an army of irritation. I do not mean to censure the inactivity 
of the troops. It is prudent and necessary inaction. But it is a mis 
erable condition, where disgrace is prudence; and where it is necessary 
to be contemptible. This tamer.ess, however disgraceful, ought not 
to be blamed, as I am surprised to hear is done by these ministers. 
The first drop of blood, shed in a civil and unnatural war, would be 
an immedicabile vidnus. It would entail hatred and contention be 
tween the two people, from generation to generation. Woe be to 
him who sheds the first, the unexpiable drop of blood in an impious 
war, with a people contending in the great cause of public liberty. I 
will tell you plainly, my lords, no son of mine nor any one over whom 
I have influence, shall ever draw his sword upon his" fellow subjects. 

I therefore urge and conjure your lordships immediately to adopt 
this conciliatory measure. I will pledge myself for its immediately 
producing conciliatory effects, from its being well timed: But if you 
delay, till your vain hope of triumphantly dictating the terms shall be 
accomplished you delay forever. And, even admitting that this 
hope, which in truth is desperate, should be accomplished, what will 
you gain by a victorious imposition of amity? You will be untrusted 
and unthanked. Adopt then the grace, while you have the opportunity 
of reconcilement, or at least prepare the way; allay the ferment pre 
vailing in America, by removing the obnoxious hostile corps. Ob 
noxious and unserviceable; for their merit can be only inaction. 
" Non dimicare estvincere" Their victory can never be by exertions. 
Their force would be most disproportionately exerted, against a brave, 
generous, and united people, with arms in their hands and courage in 
their hearts; three millions of people, the genuine descendants of q 
valiant and pious ancestry, driven to these deserts by the narrow 
maxims of a superstitious tyranny. And is the spirit of tyrannous 
persecution never to be appeased ? Are the brave sons of those brave 
forefathers to inherit their sufferings, as they have inherited their 


virtues ? Are they to sustain the inflictions of the most oppressive 
and unexampled severity, beyond the accounts of history or the de 
scription of poetry? " RhadaniantJms hahet dnrrissinia regna, casti- 
gatqite auditque" So says the wisest statesman and politician. But 
the Bostonians have been condemned unheard. The discriminating 
hand of vengeance has lumped together innocent and guilty; with all 
the formalities of hostility, has blocked up the town, and reduced to 
beggary and famine 30,000 inhabitants. But his Majesty is advised 
that the union of America cannot last. Ministers have more eyes 
than I, and should have more ears, but from all the information I 
have been able to procure, I can pronounce it a union solid, perma 
nent and effectual. Ministers may satisfy themselves and delude the 
public with the reports of what they call commercial bodies in 
America. They are not commercial. They are your packers and 
factors; they live upon nothing, for I call commission nothing; I 
mean the ministerial authority for their American intelligence. The 
runners of government, who are paid for their intelligence. But 
these are not the men, nor this the influence to be considered in 
America, when we estimate the firmness of their union. Even to ex 
tend the question, and to take in the really mercantile circle, will be 
totally inadequate to the consideration. Trade indeed increases the 
wealth and glory of a country; but its real strength and stamina are 
to be looked for among the cultivators of the land. In their simplicity 
of life is founded the simplicity of virtue, the integrity and courage of 
freedom. Those true genuine sons of the earth are invincible: and 
they surround and hem in the mercantile bodies; even if these bodies, 
which supposition I totally disclaim, could be supposed disaffected to 
the cause of liberty. Of this general spirit existing in the American 
nation, for so I wish to distinguish the real and genuine Americans 
from the pseudo traders I have described; of this spirit of independ 
ence, animating the nation of America, I have the most authentic in 
formation. It is not new among them; it is, and ever has been, their 
established principle, their confirmed persuasion; it is their nature 
and their doctrine. I remember some years ago when the repeal of 
the stamp act was in agitation, conversing in a friendly confidence 
with a person of undoubted respect and authenticity on this subject; 
and he assured me with a certainty which his judgment and opportu 
nity gave him, that these were the prevalent and steady principles of 
America: That you might destroy their towns, and cut them off from 
the superfluities, perhaps the conveniences of life, but that they were 
prepared to despise your power, and would not lament their loss, 
whilst they hadf what, my lords ? Their woods and liberty. The 
name of my authority, if I am called upon, will authenticate the 
opinion irrefragably. 

If illegal violences have been, as it is said, committed in America, 
prepare the way, open a door of possibility, for acknowledgment and 


satisfaction. But proceed not to such coercion, such proscription. 
Cease your indiscriminate inflictions; amerce not thirty thousands, 
oppress not three millions, for the faults of forty or fifty. Such 
severity of injustice must forever render incurable the wounds you 
have given your colonies; you irritate them to unappeasable rancor. 
What though you march from town to town, and from province to 
province ? Though you should be able to force a temporary and local 
submission, which I only suppose, not admit, how shall you be able 
to secure the obedience of the country you leave behind you in your 
progress ? To grasp the dominion of 1800 miles of continent, popu 
lous in valor, liberty and resistance ? This resistance to your arbi 
trary system of taxation might have been foreseen; it was obvious 
from the nature of things and of mankind; and above all, from the 
whiggish spirit flourishing in that country. The spirit which now re 
sists your taxation in America, is the same which formerly opposed, 
and with success opposed, loans, benevolences, and ship money in 
England the same spirit which called all England on its legs, and by 
the bill of rights vindicated the English constitution the same spirft 
which established the great fundamental and essential maxim of your 
liberties, that no subject shall be taxed, but by his own consent. If 
your lordships will turn to the politics of those times, you will see the 
attempts of the lords to poison this inestimable benefit of the bill, by 
an insidious proviso. You will see their attempts defeated, in their 
conference with the commons, by the decisive arguments of the as- 
certainers and maintainers of our liberty; you will see the thin, in 
conclusive and fallacious stuff of those enemies to freedom, contrasted 
with the sound and solid reasoning of sergeant Glanville and the rest, 
those great and learned men who adorned and enlightened this coun 
try, and placed her security on the summit of justice and freedom. 
And whilst 1 am on my legs, and thus do justice to the memory of 
those great men, I must also justify the merit of the living by declar 
ing my firm and fixed opinion, that such a man exists this day [looking 
towards Lord Cambden] ; this glorious spirit of whiggism animates three 
millions in America, who prefer poverty with liberty, to golden chains 
and sordid affluence; and who will die in defence of their rights, as men, 
as freemen. What shall oppose this spirit ? aided by the congenial flame 
glowing in the breast of every whig in England, to the amount, I 
hope, of at least double the American numbers Ireland they have 
to a man. In that country, joined as it is with the cause of the colo 
nies, and placed at their head, the distinction 1 contend for, is and 
must be observed. 

My iords This country superintends and controls their trade and 
navigation 1 but they tax themselves. And this distinction between 
external and internal control, is sacred and insurmountable; it is 
involved in the abstract nature of things. Property is private, indi 
vidual, absolute Trade is an extended and complicated considera- 


tion; it reaches as far as ships can sail, or winds can blow. It is a 
great and various machine To regulate the numberless movements 
of its several parts, and combine them into effect for the good of the 
whole, requires the superintending wisdom and energy of the supreme 
power in the empire. But this supreme power has no effect towards 
internal taxation for it does not exist in that relation. There is no 
such thing, no such idea in this constitution, as a supreme power 
operating upon property. 

Let this distinction then remain forever ascertained. Taxation 
is theirs, commercial regulation is ours. As an American, I would 
recognize to England her supreme right of regulating commerce and 
navigation. As an Englishman, by birth and principle, I recognize 
to the Americans their supreme, unalienable right to their property; 
a right which they are justified in the defence of, to the extremity. 
To maintain this principle is the common cause of the whigs on the 
other side of the Atlantic, and on this. Tis liberty to liberty en 
gaged, that they will defend themselves, their families and their coun 
try. In this great cause they are immovably allied. It is the alliance 
of God and nature immutable, eternal, fixed as the firmament of 
Heaven! To such united force, what force shall be opposed What, 
my lords, a few regiments in America, and 17 or 18,000 men at home! 
The idea is too ridiculous to take up a moment of your lordships 
time nor can such a national principled union be resisted by the 
tricks of office or ministerial manoeuvres. Laying papers on your 
table, or counting noses on a division, will not avert or postpone the 
hour of danger. It must arrive, my lords, unless these fatal acts are 
done away; it must arrive in all its horrors. And then these boastful 
ministers, spite of all their confidence and all their manoeuvres, shall 
be forced to hide their heads. But it is not repealing this act of Par 
liament, or that act of Parliament it is not repealing a. piece of parch 
ment that can restore America to your bosom. You must repeal her 
fears and her resentments, and you may then hope for her love and 
gratitude. But now insulted with an armed force posted in Boston, 
irritated with an hostile array before her eyes, her concessions, if you 
could force them, would be suspicious and insecure. They will be, 
irato ammo. They will not be the sound, honorable pactions of free 
men; they will be the dictates of fear and the extortions of force. But 
it is more than evident that you cannot force them, principled and 
united as they are, to your unworthy terms of submission. It is im 
possible. And when I hear General Gage censured for inactivity, I 
must retort with indignation on those whose intemperate measures 
and improvident councils have betrayed him into his present situation. 
His situation reminds me, my lords, of the answer of a French general 
in the civil wars of France, Monsieur Turenne, I think. The queen 
said to him, with some peevishness, I observe that you were often 
very near the prince during the campaign, why did you not take him ? 
The Mareschal replied with great coolness J avois grand peztr, qne 


Monsieur le prince ne me pris I was very much afraid the prince 
would take me 

When your lordships look at the papers transmitted us from Amer 
ica, when you consider their decency, firmness and wisdom, you 
cannot but respect their cause, and wish to make it your own for 
myself I must declare and avow that, in all my reading and observa 
tion, and it has been my favourite study I have read Thucydides, and 
have studied and admired the master statesman of the world that for 
solidity and reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, 
under such a complication of different circumstances, no nation or 
body of men can stand in preference to the general Congress at 
Philadelphia. I trust it is obvious to your lordships, that all attempts 
to impose servitude on such men, to establish despotism over such a 
mighty continental nation must be vain must be futile. We shall 
be forced ultimately to retract, whilst we can, not when we must. I 
say we must necessarily undo these violent and oppressive a^ts . 
they must be repealed you will repeal them I pledge myself for it 
you will in the end repeal them, I stake my reputation on it I will 
consent to be taken for an idiot if they are not finally repealed 
Avoid then this humiliating, disgraceful necessity. With a dignity 
becoming your exalted situation, make the first advances to concord, 
to peace and happiness, for that is your true dignity, to act with pru 
dence and with justice. That you should first concede is obvious from 
sourrd and rational policy. Concession comes with better grace and 
more salutary effect from the superior power. It reconciles superior 
ity of power with the feelings of men ; and establishes solid confidence 
in the foundation of affection and gratitude. So thought the wisest 
poet, and perhaps the wisest man in political sagacity, the friend of 
Maecenas, and the eulogist of Augustus. To him the adopted son and 
successor of the first Caesar, to him the master of the world, he wisely 
urged this conduct of prudence and dignity. 

Tuqiie, prior, etc. VIRGIL. 

Every motive, therefore, of justice and of policy, of dignity and of 
prudence, urges you to allay the ferment in America, by a removal of 
your troops from Boston, by a repeal of your acts of parliament, and 
by demonstration of amicable dispositions toward your colonies, 
On the other hand, every danger and every hazard, impend to deter you 
from perseverance in your present ruinous measures. Foreign war 
hanging over your heads by a slight and brittle thread . France and 
Spain watching for the maturity of your errors ; with a vigilant eye 
to America and the temper of your colonies, more than to their own 
concerns, be they what they may. 

To conclude, my lords, if the ministers thus persevere in misadvis 
ing and misleading the king, I will not say that they can alienate his 
subjects from his crown, but I will affirm that they will make the 
crown not worth his wearing. I shall not say that the king is betrayed 
but I will pronounce that the kingdom is undone. 




Richmond, Va., March 23, 1775. 

MR. PRESIDENT No man thinks more highly than I do of the patri 
otism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just 
addressed the house. But different men often see the same subject in 
different lights ; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespect 
ful to those gentlemen, if, entertaining, as I do, opinions of acharacter 
very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and 
without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before 
the house is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, 
I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery ; 
and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the 
freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive 
at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and 
our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through 
fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason 
towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty 
of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings. 

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of 
hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen 
to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is 
this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for 
liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those, who, having 
eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly 
concern their temporal salvation ? For my part, whatever anguish of 
spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth ; to know the 
worst, and to provide for it. 

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided ; and that is the 
lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but 
by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has 
been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to 
justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace 
themselves and the house ? Is it that insidious smile with which our 
petition has been lately received ? Trust it not, sir ; It will prove a 
snare to you feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. 
Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports 
with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken 
our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and 
reconciliation ? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be recon 
ciled, that force must be called in to win back our love ? Let us not 


deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subju 
gation ; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, 
what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to 
submission ? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it ? 
Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for 
all this accumulation of navies and armies ? No, sir, she has none. 
They are meant for us : they can be meant for no other. They are 
sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains, which the British 
ministry have been so long forging. And what ha^e we to oppose to 
them ? Shall we try argument ? Sir, we have been trying that for 
the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject ? 
Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is 
capable ; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and 
humble supplication ? What terms shall we find, which have not been 
already exhausted ? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves 
longer. Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert 
the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have 
remonstrated ; we have supplicated ; we have prostrated ourselves 
before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the 
tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have 
been slighted ; our remonstrances have produced additional violence 
and insult ; our supplications have been disregarded ; and we have 
been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne ! In vain, 
after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and recon 
ciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be 
free if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges 
for which we have been so long contending if we mean not basely 
to abandon the noble struggle in w r hich we have been so long engaged, 
and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon, until the 
glorious object of our contest shall be obtained we must fight ! I 
repeat it, sir, we must fight ! An appeal to arms and to the God of 
Hosts is all that is left us ! 

They tell us, sir, that we are weak ; unable to cope with so for 
midable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger ? Will it be 
the next week, or the next year ? Will it be when we are totally 
disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house ? 
Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction ? Shall we 
acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our 
backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies 
shall have bound us hand and foot ? Sir, we are not weak, if we 
make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath 
placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy 
cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are 
invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. 
Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God 
who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up 


friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong 
alone ; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have 
no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to 
retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission and 
slavery ! Our chains are forged ! Their clanking may be heard on 
the plains of Boston ! The war is inevitable and let it come ! I 
repeat it, sir, let it come. 

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, 
Peace, peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun ! 
The next gale, that sweeps from the north, will bring to our ears the 
clash of resounding arms ! Our brethren are already in the field ! 
Why stand we here idle ? What is it that gentlemen wish ? What 
would they have ? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be pur 
chased at the price of chains and slavery ? Forbid it, Almighty God ! 
I know not what course others may take ; but as for me, give me 
liberty or give me death ! 



Boston, April 8, 1776. 

ILLUSTRIOUS RELICS ! What tidings from the grave ? why hast thou 
left the peaceful mansions of that tomb, to visit again this troubled 
earth! art thou the welcome messenger of peace! art thou risen again to 
exhibit thy glorious wounds, and through them proclaim salvation to 
thy country! or art thou come to demand the last debt of humanity to 
which your rank and merit have so justly entitled you but which has 
been so long ungenerously withheld! and art thou angry at the bar 
barous usage? be appeased sweet ghost! for though thy body has 
long laid undistinguished among the vulgar dead, scarce privileged 
with earth enough to hide it from the birds of prey; though not a 
friendly sigh was uttered o er thy grave; and though the execration of 
an impious foe, were all thy funeral knells; yet, matchless patriot! thy 
memory has been embalmed in the affections of thy grateful country 
men; who, in their breasts, have raised eternal monuments to thy 

But let us leave the beloved remains, and contemplate for a moment 
those virtues of the man, the exercise of which have so deservedly 
endeared him to the honest among the great, and the good among the 

In the private walks of life, he was a pattern for mankind. The 
tears of her to whom the world is indebted for so much virtue, are silent 
heralds of his filial piety; while his tender offspring in lisping out their 


father s care, proclaim his parental affection; and an Adams can 
witness with how much zeal he loved, where he had formed the sacred 
connexion of a friend; their kindred souls were so closely twined, that 
both felt one joy, both one affliction. In conversation he had the 
happy talent of addressing his subject both to the understanding and 
the passions; from the one he forced conviction, from the other he 
stole assent. 

He was blessed with a complacency of disposition and equanimity of 
temper, which peculiarly endeared him to his friends, and which, added 
to the deportment of the gentleman, commanded reverence and esteem 
even from his enemies. 

Such was the tender sensibility of his soul, that he need but see dis 
tress to feel it, and contribute to its relief. He was deaf to the calls of 
interest even in the course of his profession; and wherever he beheld 
an indigent object, which claimed his healing skill, he administered it, 
without even the hope of any other reward than that which resulted 
from the reflection of having so far promoted the happiness of his 

In the social departments of life, practising upon the strength of 
that doctrine he used so earnestly to inculcate himself, that nothing 
so much conduced to enlighten mankind, and advance the great end of 
society at large, as the frequent interchange of sentiments, in friendly 
meeting; we find him constantly engaged in this eligible labor; but on 
none did he place so high a value, as on that most honorable of all 
detached societies, The Free and Accepted Masons: into this fraternity 
he was early initiated; and after having given repeated proofs of a rapid 
proficiency in the arts, and after evidencing by his life, the professions 
of his lips finally, as the reward of his merit, he was commissioned 
The Most Worshipful Grand-Master of all the ancient Masons, through 
North America. And you, brethren, are living testimonies, with how 
much honor to himself, and benefit to the craft universal, he discharged 
the duties of his elevated trust; with what sweetened accents he 
courted your attention, while, with wisdom, strength, and beauty he 
instructed his lodges in the secret arts of Freemasonry; what perfect 
order and decorum he preserved in the government of them; and, in 
all his conduct, what a bright example he set us, to live within com 
pass and act upon the square. 

With what pleasure did he silence the wants of poor and pennyless 
brethren; yea, the necessitous everywhere, though ignorant of the 
mysteries of the craft, from his benefactions, felt the happy effects 
of that institution which is founded on faith, hope and charity. And 
the world may cease to wonder, that he so readily offered up hie life, 
on the altar of his country, when they are told that the main pillar of 
masonry is the love of mankind. 

The fates, as though they would reveal, in the person of our Grand 
Master, those mysteries which have so long lain hid from the 


world have suffered him, like the great master-builder in the temple 
of old, to fall by the hands of ruffians, and be again raised in honor 
and authority; we searched in the field for the murdered son of a 
widow, and we found him, by the turf and the twig, buried on the 
brow of a hill, though not in a decent grave. And though we must 
again commit his body to the tomb, yet our breasts shall be the bury 
ing spot of his masonic virtues, and there 

" An adamantine monument we ll rear, 
With this inscription," Masonry " lies here." 

In public life the sole object of his ambition was, to acquire the con 
science of virtuous enterprises; amor patrie was the spring of his ac 
tions, and wens conscia recti was his guide. And on this security he 
was on every occasion ready to sacrifice his health, his interest, and 
his ease, to the sacred calls of his country. When the liberties of 
America were attacked, he appeared an early champion in the con 
test; and though his knowledge and abilities would have insured 
riches and preferment (could he have stooped to prostitution) yet he 
nobly withstood the fascinating charm, tossed fortune back her plume, 
and pursued the inflexible purpose of his soul in guiltless competence. 

He sought not the airy honors of a name, else many of those publi 
cations which, in the early period of our controversy, served to open 
the minds of the people, had not appeared anonymous. In every time 
of eminent danger, his fellow-citizens flew to him for advice; like the 
orator of Athens, he gave it and dispelled their fears twice did they 
call him to the rostrum to commemorate the massacre of their breth 
ren; and from that instance, in persuasive language he taught them, 
not only the dangerous tendency but the actual mischief, of stationing 
a military force in a free city, in a time of peace. They learnt the 
profitable lesson and penned it among their grievances. 

But his abilities were too great, his deliberations too much wanted, 
to be confined to the limits of a single city, and at a time when our 
liberties were most critically in danger from the secret machinations 
and open assaults of our enemies, this town, to their lasting honor, 
elected him to take a part in the councils of the state. And with what 
fathfulness he discharged the important delegation, the neglect of his 
private concerns, and his unwearied attendance on that betrustment, 
will sufficiently testify; and the records of that virtuous assembly will 
remain the testimonials of his accomplishments as a statesman, and 
his integrity and services as a patriot through all posterity. 

The Congress of our colony could not observe so much virtue and 
greatness without honoring it with the highest mark of their favor, and 
by the free suffrages of that uncorrupted body of freemen he was soon 
called to preside in the Senate where, by his daily counsels and 
exertions, he was constantly promoting the great cause of general 


But when he found the tools of oppression were obstinately bent on 
violence; when he found the vengeance of the British court must be 
glutted with blood; he determined that what he could not effect by his 
eloquence or his pen, he would bring to purpose by his sword. And 
on the memorable ic;th of April, he appeared in the field under the 
united characters of the general, the soldier, and the physician. Here 
he was seen animating his countrymen to battle, and fighting by their 
side, and there he was found administering healing comforts to the 
wounded. And when he had repelled the unprovoked assaults of the 
enemy, and had driven them back into their strongholds, like the 
virtuous chief of Rome, he returned to the Senate, and presided again 
at the councils of the fathers. 

When the vanquished foe had rallied their disordered army, and 
by the acquisition of fresh strength, again presumed to fight against 
freemen, our patriot, ever anxious to be where he could do the most 
good, again put off the Senator, and, in contempt of danger flew to 
the field of battle, where after a stern, and almost victorious resistance, 
ah! too soon for his country! he sealed his principles with his blood 

" Freedom \vcpt that merit could not save," 
But Warren s manes " must enrich the grave." 

Enriched indeed! and the heights of Charlestown shall be more mem 
orable for thy fall, than the Plains of Abraham are for that of the hero 
of Britain. For while he died contending for a single country, you 
fell in the cause of virtue and mankind. 

The greatness of his soul shone even in the moment of death ; for, 
if fame speak true, in his last agonies he met the insults of his barbar 
ous foe with his wonted magnanimity, and with the true spirit of a 
soldier, frowned at their impotence. 

In fine, to complete the great character like Harrington he wrote 
like Cicero he spoke like Hampden he lived and like Wolfe he 

And can we, my countrymen, with indifference behold so much 
valor laid prostrate by the hand of British tyranny! and can we ever 
grasp that hand in affection again? are we not yet convinced " that he 
who hunts the woods for prey, the naked and untutored Indian, is less 
a savage than the king of Britain!" have we not proofs, wrote in 
blood, that the corrupted nation, from whence we sprang (though 
there may be some traces of their ancient virtue left), are stubbornly 
fixed on our destruction! and shall we still court a dependence on 
such a state? still contend fora connexion with those who have forfeited 
not only every kindred claim, but even their title to humanity? forbid 
it the spirit of the brave Montgomery! forbid it the spirit of immortal 
Warren! forbid it the spirits of all our valiant countrymen! who fought 
bled, and died for far different purposes, and who would have thought 
the purchase dear indeed! to have paid their lives for the paltry boon 


of displacing one set of villains in power, to make way for another. 
No. They contended for the establishment of peace, liberty, and 
safety to their country; and we are unworthy to be called their coun 
trymen, if we stop at any acquisition short of this. 

Now is the happy season, to sei/e again those rights, which, as men, 
we are by nature entitled to, and which, by contract, we never have 
and never could have surrendered: but which have been repeatedly 
and violently attacked by the king, lords and commons of Britain. 
Ought we not then to disclaim forever, the forfeited affinity; and by a 
timely amputation of that rotten limb of the empire, prevent the 
mortification of the whole ? ought we not to listen to the voice of our 
slaughtered brethren, who are now proclaiming aloud to their 

Go tell the king, and tell him from our spirits, 

That you and Britons can be friends no more ; 

Tell him, to you all tyrants are the same ; 

Or if in bonds, the never conquered soul 

Can feel a pang, more keen than slavery s self, 

Tis where the chains that crush you into dust, 

Are forg d by hands, from which you hop d for freedom. 

Yes, we ought, and will we will assert the blood of our murdered 
hero against thy hostile oppressions. O shameless Britain! and when 
"thy cloud-capped towers, thy gorgeous palaces" shall, by the teeth 
of pride and folly, be levelled with the dust and when thy glory shall 
have faded like the western sunbeam the name and the virtues of 
Warren shall remain immortal. 


Dorchester, Mass., July 4, 1855. 

But there is another circumstance which must ever clothe the occu 
pation of Dorchester Heights with an affecting interest. It was the 
first great military operation of Washington in the Revolutionary war; 
not a battle, indeed, but the preparation for a battle on the grandest 
scale, planned with such skill and executed with such vigor as at once 
to paralyze the army and navy of the enemy and force him, without 
striking a blow, to an ignominious retreat. Washington was com 
missioned as Commander in Chief of the American armies on the day 
the battle of Bunker Hill was fought. The siege of Boston had been 
already formed ; and those noble lines of circumvallation, twelve 
miles in compass, of which some faint remains may still be traced, 
had been drawn along the high grounds of Charlestown, Cambridge, 
Roxbury, and Dorchester. An adventurous expedition against 


Quebec had failed; partial collisions had taken place wherever there 
were royal forces throughout the country, but nothing decisive was 
brought about, and a feverish excitement pervaded the continent. 
Congress was still conducting the war without a constitutional exist 
ence, and all eyes and hearts were turned to the army and to Wash 
ington. Men at a safe distance, and with nothing at stake, are prone 
to judge severely the conduct of those who are at the post of responsi 
bility and danger. Washington himself felt the delicacy and the 
hazards of his position; the importance of sustaining the expectations 
of the country; the necessity of decisive results. But his army was 
without discipline or experience, save a few veterans of the seven 
years war, without adequate supplies of any kind, composed . of men 
who had left their homes at a moment s warning and were impatient 
to return; weakened by camp diseases and the small-pox, with a 
stock of powder so scanty that stratagem was resorted to by the com 
mander to conceal the deficiency even from his officers. Thus the 
summer and the autumn wore away, and every week increased the 
public impatience and added to the embarrassments of Washington. 
His private letters at this time are filled with the most touching re 
marks on his distressed condition. In a letter to Colonel Reed, of the 
fourteenth of January, 1776, he says: " The reflection on my situation 
and that of this army produces many an unhappy hour when all 
around me are wrapped in sleep. Fe w people know the predicament 
we are in on a thousand accounts; fewer still will believe, if any dis 
aster happens to these lines, from what cause it flows. I have often 
thought how much happier I should have been, if, instead of accept 
ing the command under such circumstances, I had taken my musket 
on my shoulder and entered the ranks; or, if I could have justified 
the measure to posterity and my own conscience, had retired to the 
back country and lived in a wigwam." 

At length, however, the re-enlistment of the army was completed; 
advanced lines were thrown up; ordnance captured at Ticonderoga 
had been transported by Knox with prodigious effort across the 
country; ammunition had been taken by Manly in his prize ships; 
shells were furnished from the royal arsenal at New York. It was 
Washington s wish to cross the ice at Boston, to carry the town by 
assault, and destroy the royal army. The ice, however, did not make 
till the middle of February, and it was decided, by a council of war, 
that the town could not be assaulted with success. 

It was then resolved to repeat, on a grander scale, with full prepara 
tion and ample means, the hasty operation which had brought on the 
battle of Bunker Hill the preceding summer. It was determined first 
to occupy the heights of Dorchester, and, as soon as an impregnable 
position was secured there, to establish batteries on Nook Hill and 
the other rising grounds nearest Boston. The fleet in the harbor was 
within range of the heights; the town was commanded from the hills 


below. The occupation of these points would of necessity compel 
the enemy to take the risk of a decisive action, or to evacuate the 

Washington, though preferring bolder measures, yielded to the de 
cision of his council, and threw his whole soul into the work. A plan 
for a grand combined movement was matured. The heights of Dor 
chester were to be occupied on the night of the fourth of March, in 
order that the anticipated battle might be fought on the anniversary 
of the ever-memorable fifth of March, 1770. As soon as the convict 
was engaged on the heights, Putnam was to cross from Cambridge 
with a body of four thousand men, land in two divisions in Boston, 
and, forcing his way through the town, burst open the fortifica 
tions on the neck, and thus admit a division of the American army 
from Roxbury. To distract and occupy the attention of the enemy, 
the town was severely bombarded from Somerville, East Cambridge, 
and Roxbury, during the nights of the second, third, and fourth of 

I am told by professional men that these dispositions evince con 
summate military skill, and are among the facts which show that 
Washington, too often compelled by his situation to pursue the Fabian 
policy, possessed a talent for military combinations that entitles him 
to a place beside the greatest captains of the last century. 

The fourth of March, the day so long and anxiously expected, at 
length arrives. The troops are put in motion in the evening from the 
American lines at Roxbury and Dorchester. An advanced guard of 
eight hundred men precedes; the carts with intrenching tools came 
next, with the main body, twelve hundred strong, under General 
Thomas; the whole followed by a train of three hundred wagons 
loaded with fascines, gabions, and bundles of hay. They crossed 
Dorchester neck without being perceived, and reached their destina 
tion in two divisions, one for each of the heights. Bundles of hay 
were placed on the side of the causeway, at the most exposed parts, 
as a protection in case the enemy should discover and attempt to in 
terrupt the movement. Under this shelter parties from the American 
army passed several times during the night, without being perceived, 
though it was bright moonlight. This was owing, no doubt, to the 
cannonade and bombardment of the town from the opposite quarter, 
by which also the whole surrounding country was thrown into a state 
of painful expectation and alarm. The operations were conducted by 
Grid ley, an experienced engineer of the old French war. He was 
aided by Colonel Putnam, in laying out and executing the works, 
which, before morning, though incomplete, were adequate against 
grapeshot and musketry. 

Washington was present on the heights. In the strictness of mili 
tary duty, the presence of the Commander-in-Chief of the army was 
not required on the ground on such an occasion , but the operation 


was too important to be trusted entirely to subordinates. Accom 
panied by Mr. James Bowdoin, then a young man of twenty-two, 
afterwards your respected fellow citizen and the representative of 
Dorchester in the Convention of Massachusetts, which adopted the 
Constitution of the United States, Washington, whose headquarters 
were at Cambridge, repaired, on this eventful night, to Dorchester 
Heights. He has left no record descriptive of the scene or of his 
thoughts and emotions at what he must have regarded, at that time, 
as the most eventful hour of his life, and a most critical moment of 
the war " The moon shining in its full lustre" (they are the words 
of Washington), revealed every object through the clear, cold air of 
early March, with that spectral distinctness with which things present 
themselves to the straining eye at a great juncture. All immediately 
around him intense movement, but carried on in death-like silence; 
nothing heard but the incessant tread of busy feet and the dull sound 
of the mattock upon the soil, frozen so deep as to make it necessary 
to place reliance on the fascines and gabions. Beneath him, the 
slumbering batteries of the castle; the roadstead and harbor filled with 
the vessels of the royal fleet, motionless, except as they swung around 
at their moorings with the turn of the midnight tide; the beleaguered 
city, occupied by a powerful army and a considerable non-combatant 
population, startled into unnatural vigilance by the incessant and de 
structive cannonade, but yet unobservant of the great operations in 
progress so near them; the surrounding country, dotted with a hun 
dred rural settlements roused from the deep sleep of a New England 
village by the unwonted tumult and glare. 

It has been stated in one or two w r ell-authenticated cases of persons 
restored after drowning, where life has been temporarily extinguished 
in the full glow of health, with the faculties unimpaired by disease and 
in perfect action, that, in the last few minutes of conscious existence, 
the whole series of the events of the entire life comes rushing back to 
the mind, distinctly but with inconceivable rapidity ; that the whole 
life is lived over again in a moment. Such a narrative, by a person 
of high official position in a foreign country, and perfect credibility, I 
have read. We may well suppose that at this most critical moment 
of Washington s life, a similar concentration of thought would take 
place, and that the events of his past existence as they had prepared 
him for it, his training while yet a boy in the wilderness, his escape 
from drowning and the rifle of the savage on his perilous mission to 
Venango, the shower of iron hail through which he rode unharmed on 
Braddock s field, would now crowd through his memory; that much 
more also the past life of his country, the early stages of the great 
conflict now brought to its crisis, and still more solemnly the possi 
bilities of the future for himself and for America, would press upon 
him; the ruin of the patriotic cause if he failed at the outset; the tri 
umphant consolidation of the revolution if he prevailed; with highef 


visions of the powerful family of rising states, their auspicious growth 
and prosperous fortunes, hovering like a dream of angels in the re 
moter prospect; all this, attended with the immense desire of honest 
fame (for we cannot think even Washington s mind too noble to pos 
sess the "last infirmity"), the intense inward glow of manly heroism 
about to act its great part on a sublime theatre, the softness of the 
man chastening the severity of the chieftain, and deeply touched at the 
sufferings and bereavements about to be caused by the conflict of the 
morrow ; the still tender emotions that breathed their sanctity over all the 
rest; the thought of the faithful and beloved wife who had followed 
him from Mount Vernon, and of the aged mother whose heart was 
aching in her Virginia home for glad tidings of " George, who was al 
ways a good boy," all these pictures, visions, feelings, pangs too 
vast for words, too deep for tears, but swelling, no doubt, in one 
unuttered prayer to Heaven we may well imagine to have filled the 
soul of Washington at that decisive hour, as he stood upon the heights 
of Dorchester, with the holy stars for his camp-fire, and the deep fold 
ing shadows of the night, looped by the hand of God to the four quar 
ters of the sky, for the curtains of his tent. 

The morning of the fifth of March dawned, and the enemy beheld 
with astonishment, looming through a heavy mist, the operations of 
the night. Gen. Howe wrote to the minister that they must have been 
the work of at least twelve thousand men. In the account given by 
one of his officers, and adopted in the Annual Register, it is said that 
the expedition with which these works were thrown up, with their 
sudden and unexpected appearance, " recalled to the mind those won 
derful stories of enchantment and invisible agency, which are so fre 
quent in the eastern romances." 

General Howe, like a gallant commander, immediately determined 
on the perilous attempt to dislodge the Americans before their en 
trenchments should be rendered impregnable. A powerful detach 
ment, led by Lord Percy, dropped down to the castle in the afternoon, 
to rendezvous there, and thence cross over to Dorchester point, and 
storm the heights. A heavy gale ("a dreadful storm" it is called, in 
the British accounts) scattered the barges, and prevented the embarka 
tion of the troops. This delay gave the Americans time to perfect 
their works; barrels filled with earth were placed around the heights, an 
abattis of trees disposed around the foot of the hills, reinforcements 
of two thousand men ordered to the support of General Thomas, and 
every preparation made for a decisive conflict. 

It was soon understood that the royal commander, not deeming it 
safe to take the risk of an engagement, had determined to evacuate 
Boston. To prevent the destruction of the town, Washington was 
willing that they should leave it unmolested. Finding, however, after 
some days, that no apparent movement was made for this purpose, 
he determined without further delay to occupy Nook Hill and the 


other elevations fronting and commanding the town. This produced 
the desired effect, and General Howe was at length compelled to ac 
knowledge the inability of a powerful land and naval force, under 
veteran leaders, to maintain themselves against untried levies whom 
they were accustomed to regard with contempt, led by officers from 
whom they affected to withhold even the usual titles of military com 
mand. He was obliged to acquiesce in an engagement with the Select 
men of Boston, tacitly sanctioned by " Mr. Washington," that his army 
should be allowed to embark without being fired upon, on condition 
that they would not burn the town. 

Thus, on the seventeenth of March, 1776, an effective force of many 
thousand men evacuated the town, and with a powerful fleet and a 
numerous train of transports, sailed for Halifax. Putnam, with an 
attachment of the American army, took possession of Boston. The 
beloved commander himself made his entry into the town the follow 
ing day, and the first great act of the drama of the Revolution was 
brought to a triumphant close, on that old Dorchester Neck which, 
before the i f oundation of Boston, our fathers selected as a place for 

This event diffused joy throughout the Union, and contributed 
materially to prepare the public mind for that momentous political meas 
ure, of which v^e this day commemorate the seventy-ninth anniversary. 
That civil government, however human infirmities mingle in its or 
ganization, is, in its ultimate principles, a Divine ordinance, will be 
doubted by no one who believes in an overruling Providence. That 
svery people has a right to interpret for itself the will of Providence, 
In reference to the form of government best suited to its condition, 
subject to no external human responsibility, is equally certain, and is 
ihe doctrine which lies at the basis of the Declaration of Independence. 
But what makes a people, what constitutes this august community, 
to which we give that name; how many persons how few; bound to 
each other by what antecedent ties of physical descent, of common 
language, of local proximity, of previous political connection ? This 
is a great question, to which no answer, that I know, has yet beep 
given; to which, in general terms, perhaps, none can be given. Physi 
ologists ha/e not yet found the seat of animal life, far less of the ra 
tional intellect or spiritual essence of the individual man. Who can 
wonder that it should be still farther beyond our ability to define the 
mysterious laws which out of the physical instincts of our nature, the 
inexplicable attractions of kindred and tongue, the persuasion of rea 
son, the social sympathies, the accidents as we call them of birth, the 
wanderings of nations in the dark deeds of the past, the confederacies 
of peace, the ravages of war, employed by the all-fashioning hand of 
time, which moulds everything human according to the eternal types 
in the Divine mind work out, in the lapse of centuries, with more than 
Promethean skill, that wondrous creation which we call A People ! 
A. P. -5. 




When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one 
people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with 
another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate 
and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature s God 
entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires 
that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separa 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created 
equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable 
rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; 
that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, 
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that, 
whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, 
it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute 
a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and 
organizing its powers in such form as to them shall seem most likely 
to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate 
that governments should not be changed for light and transient 
causes; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are 
more dispose I to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right them 
selves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But 
when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the 
same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, 
it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to 
provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the 
patient sufferance of these Colonies, and such is now the necessity 
which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. 
The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of re 
peated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the estab 
lishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let 
facts be submitted to a candid world: 

He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and neces 
sary for the public good. 

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and 
pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent 
should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly negle?ted 
to attend to them. 

He has refused to pass" other laws for the accommodation of large 


districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of 
representation in the Legislature; a right inestimable to them, and 
formidable to tyrants only. 

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncom 
fortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for 
the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. 

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing 
with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. 

He has refused, for a long time after such dissolutions, to cause 
others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of 
annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; 
the State remaining, in the meantime, exposed to all the danger 
of invasion from without, and convulsions within. 

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States ; for 
that purpose, obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners ; 
refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and rais 
ing the conditions of new appropriations of lands. 

He has obstructed the administration of justice by refusing his 
assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers. 

He has made judges dependent on his T ,vill alone for the tenure of 
their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. 

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms 
of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance. 

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without 
the consent of our Legislature. 

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior 
to, the civil power. 

He has combined, with others, to subject us to a jurisdiction 
foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving 
his assent to their acts of pretended legislation: 

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us; 

Fot protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any 
murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these 
States ; 

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world; 

For imposing taxes on us without our consent; 

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury ; 

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences; . 

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring 
Province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging 
its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instru 
ment for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies; 

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, 
and altering fundamentally the powers of our governments; 

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves 
invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever; 


He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his pro 
tection, and waging war against us. 

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, 
and destroyed the lives of our people. 

He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries 
to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already 
begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in 
the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized 

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high 
seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of 
their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands. 

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeav 
ored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian 
savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruc 
tion of all ages, sexes, and conditions. 

In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress 
in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered 
only by repeated injury. A prince whose character is thus marked by 
every act which may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free 

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. 

We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts made by 
their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We 
have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and 
settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and mag 
nanimity; and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common 
kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably inter 
rupt our connections and correspondence. They, too, have been 
deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity. We must, therefore, 
acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold 
them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war; in peace, friends. 

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, 
in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of 
the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by 
the authority of the good people of these Colonies, solemnly publish 
and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, 
free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance 
to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them 
and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; 
and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to 
levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and 
to do all other acts and things which independent States may of 
right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance 
on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each 
other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor. 



The signers to this declaration were: 

JOHN HANCOCK, President. 
NEW HAMPSHIRE. James Smith, 

Josiah Bartlett, 
William Whipple, 

Matthew Thornton. 


Samuel Adams, 
John Adams, 
Robert Treat Paine, 
Elbridge Gerry. 


Stephen Hopkins, 
William Ellery. 


Roger Sherman, 
Samuel Huntington, 
William Williams, 
Oliver Wolcott. 


William Floyd, 
Philip Livingston, 
Francis Lewis, 
Lewis Morris. 


Richard Stockton, 
John Witherspoon, 
Francis Hopkinson, 
John Hart, 
Abraham Clark. 


Robert Morris, 
Benjamin Rush, 
Benjamin Franklin, 
John Morton, 
George Clymer, 

George Taylor, 
James Wilson, 
George Ross. 


Caesar Rodney, 
George Reed, 
Thomas McKean. 


Samuel Chase, 

William Paca, 

Thomas Stone, 

Charles Carroll, ot Carrollton. 

George Wythe, 
Richard Henry Lee, 
Thomas Jefferson, 
Benjamin Harrison, 
Thomas Nelson, Jr., 
Francis Lightfoot Lee, 
Carter Braxton. 


William Hooper, 
Joseph Hewes, 
John Penn. 


Edward Rutledge, 
Thomas Hayward, Jr., 
Thomas Lynch, Jr., 
Arthur Middleton. 

Button Gwinnett, 
Lyman Hall, 
George Walton. 



Philadelphia^ July 3, 1776. 

Had a declarrtion of independence been made seven months ago, 
it would have been attended with many great and glorious effects./ 
We might, before this hour, have formed alliance with foreign states. 
We should have mastered Quebec, and been in possession of Canada. 

You will, perhaps, wonder how such a declaration would have influ 
enced our affairs in Canada; but, if I could write with freedom, I 
could easily convince you that it would, and explain to you the manner 
how. Many gentlemen in high stations, and of great influence, have 
been duped, by the ministerial bubble of commissioners, to treat; and 
in real, sincere expectation of this event, which they so fondly wished, 
they have been slow and languid in promoting measures for the reduc 
tion of that province. Others there are in the colonies, who really 
wished that our enterprise in Canada would be defeated; that the col 
onies might be brought into danger and distress between two fires, 
and be thus induced to submit. Others really wished to defeat the 
expedition to Canada, lest the conquest of it should elevate the minds 
of the people too much to hearken to those terms of reconcilation 
which they believed would be offered us. These jarring views, wishes, 
and designs, occasioned an opposition to many salutary measures 
which were proposed for the support of that expedition, and caused 
obstructions, embarrassments, and studied delays, which have finally 
lost us the province. 

All these causes, however, in conjunction, would not have disap 
pointed us, if it had not been for a misfortune which could not have 
been foreseen, and perhaps could not have been prevented I mean 
the prevalence of the small-pox among our troops. This fatal pesti 
lence completed our destruction. It is a frown of Providence upon 
us, which we ought to lay to heart. 

But, on the other hand, the delay of this declaration to this time has 
many great advantages attending it. The hopes of reconciliation which 
were fondly entertained by multitudes of honest and well meaning, 
though short-sighted and mistaken people, have been gradually, and at 
last totally, extinguished. Time has been given for the whole people 
maturely to consider the great question of independence, and to ripen 
their judgment, dissipate their fears, and allure their hopes, by discus 
sing it in newspapers and pamphlets by debating it in assemblies, 

* July 2, the vote was taken upon the question of independence, and nine of the 
colonies voted for the resolution. 


conventions, committees of safety and inspection in town and county 
meetings, as well as in private conversations so that the whole peo 
ple, in every colony, have now adopted it as their own act. This will 
cement the union, and avoid those heats, and perhaps convulsions, 
which might have been occasioned by such a declaration six months 

But the day is past. The second day of July, 1776, will be a mem 
orable epocha in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it 
will be celebrated by succeeding generations, as the great Anniversary 
Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the day of deliverance 
by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemn 
ized with pomp, shews, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illu 
minations, from one end of the continent to the other, from this time 
forward forever. 

You may think me transported with enthusiasm; but I am not. I 
am well aware of the toil, and blood, and treasure, that it will cost us 
to maintain this declaration, and support and defend these states. Yet, 
through all the gloom, I can see the rays of light and glory; I can see 
that the end is more than worth all the means, and that posterity will 
triumph, although you and I may rue, which I hope we shall not. 




Boston, March 5, 1780. 

" Devotion to the public. Glorious flame ! 
Celestial ardor! in what unknown worlds 
Hast thou been blessing myriads since in Rome, 
Old virtuous Rome, so many deathless names 
From thee their lustre drew ? since taught by thee 
Their poverty put splendor to the blush, 
Pain grew luxurious, and even death delight." 

Thomson, vol. /. f. 336. 

" Unblest by -virtue, government and league 
Becomes a circling junto of the great 

To rob by law 

What are without it senates, save a face 

Of consultation deep and reason free, 

While the determined voice and heart are cold ? 

What boasted freedom, save a sounding name ? 

And what election, but a market vile 

Of slavery self-barter d 1"Id.p. 3. 

MY FRIENDS AND FELLOW CITIZENS That the greatness and pros 
perity of a people depend upon the proportion of public spirit and the 
love of virtue which is found to exist among them, seems to be a 
maxim established by the universal consent, and I may say, experience 
of all ages. 


Man is formed with a constitution wonderfully adapted for social 
converse and connection. Scarcely ushered into the world, but his 
wants teach him his inability, of himself, to provide for them. Wrapt 
in astonishment, with an anxiety inexpressible, the solitary existent 
looks around for the aid of some friendly neighbor, and should he per 
chance meet the desired object; should he find one, endowed with 
intellectual faculties, beset with the same wants and weaknesses, and 
in all respects the very image of himself; should he find him with a 
heart open to mutual kind offices, and a hand stretched out to bestow 
a proportion of his labor, with a bosom glowing with gratitude, his 
soul is on the wing to express the sense he entertains of the generous 

A confidence is established between him and his benefactor, they 
swear perpetual friendship, and a compact for mutual protection and 
assistance becomes imperceptibly consented to. Thus doubly armed, 
together they pursue their morning route to satisfy those demands 
only which nature reminds them of, and while the ingenuity of the 
one is exercised to ensnare, the strength of the other is, perhaps, 
employed to subdue their vigorous opponent. 

Their little family soon increases; and as their social ring becomes 
gradually enlarged, their obligations to each other are equally circular. 
Honest industry early teaches them, that a part only is sufficient to 
provide for the whole, and that a portion of their time may be spared 
to cull the conveniences as well as appease the wants of nature. 
Property and personal security appear to be among the first objects of 
their attention, and acknowledged merit receives the unanimous suf 
frage to preside guardian over the rights and privileges of their infant 
society. The advantages derived are in a moment experienced. 
Their little policy, erected upon the broad basis of equality, they know 
of no superiority but that which virtue and the love of the whole de 
mands; and while, with cheerfulness, they entrust to his care a certain 
part of their natural rights, to secure the remainder, the agreement is 
mutual, and the obligation upon his part equally solemn and binding 
to resign them back either at the instance and request of their sover 
eign pleasure, or whensoever the end should be perverted for which 
he received them. 

Integrity of heart, benevolence of disposition, the love of freedom 
and public spirit, are conspicuous excellencies in this select neighbor 
hood. Lawless ambition is without a friend, and the insinuating pro 
fessional pleas of tyrants, ever accompanied by the magnificence and 
splendor of luxury, are unheard of among them; but simple in their 
manners, and honest in their intentions, their regulations are but few 
and those expressive, and without the aid of extreme refinement, by a 
universal adherence to the spirit of their constitution, and to those 
glorious principles from which that spirit originated, we find them at 
taining real glory we find them crowned with every blessing that 


human nature hath ever known of we find them in the possession 
of that summit of solid happiness that universal depravity will ad 
mit of. 

Patriotism is essential to the preservation and well being of every 
free government. To love one s country has ever been esteemed 
honorable; and under the influence of this noble passion, every sociaJ 
virtue is cultivated, freedom prevails through the whole, and the pub 
lic good is the object of every one s concern. A constitution, built 
upon such principles, and put in execution by men possessed with the 
love of virtue and their fellow-men, must always ensure happiness to 
its members The industry of the citizen will receive encouragement, 
and magnanimity, heroism and benevolence will be esteemed the ad 
mired qualifications of the age. Every, the least invasion on the pub 
lic liberty, is considered as an infringement on that of the subject; and 
feeling himself roused at the appearance of oppression, with a divine 
enthusiasm, he flies to obey the summons of his country, and does she 
but request, with zeal he resigns the life of the individual for the pres 
ervation of the whole. 

Without some portion of this generous principle, anarchy and con 
fusion would immediately ensue, the jarring interests of individuals, 
regarding themselves only, and indifferent to the welfare of others, 
would still further heighten the distressing scene, and with the assist 
ance of the selfish passions, it would end in the ruin and subversion of 
the state. But where patriotism is the leading principle, unanimity is 
conspicuous in public and private councils. The constitution receives 
for its stability the united efforts of every individual, and revered for 
its justice, admired for its principle, and formidable for its strength, 
its fame reaches to the skies. 

Should we look into the history of the ancient republics, we shall 
find them a striking example of what I have asserted, and in no part 
of their progress to greatness, producing so many illustrious actions, 
and advancing so rapidly in the road to glory, as when actuated by 
public spirit and the love of their country. The Greeks in particular 
ever held such sentiments as these in the highest veneration, and with 
such sentiments as these alne they established their freedom, and 
finally conquered the innumerable armies of the east. 

When Xerxes, the ambitious prince of Persia, vainly thinking that 
nature and the very elements were subject to his control, inflamed 
with the thoughts of conquest, threatening the seas, should they resist, 
with his displeasure, and the mountains, should they oppose his pro 
gress; when, after having collected the armies of the then known world 
under his banners, he entered the bowels of Greece, leading forth his 
millions, resolutely bent upon the destruction and extirpation of this 
small but free people, what do we perceive to be their conduct upon so 
alarming an occasion? do they tamely submit without a struggle? do 
they abandon the property, their liberties, and their country, to the 


fury of these merciless invaders? do they meanly supplicate the favor, 
or intreat the humanity of this haughty prince? no! sensible of the 
justice of their cause, and that valor is oftentimes superior to num 
bers; undaunted by the appearance of this innumerable host, and fired 
with the glorious zeal, they, with one voice, resolve to establish their 
liberties, or perish in the attempt. 

View them at the moment when the armies of their enemies, like an 
inundation, overspread their whole Grecian territory; when oppres 
sion seemed as though collecting its mighty force, and liberty lay 
fettered at the shrine of ambition, then shone forth the heavenly prin 
ciple, then flamed the spirit of the patriot, and, laying aside all senti 
ments of jealousy, as though favored with the prophetic wisdom of 
heaven, with bravery unexampled, they charge their foe, and, fighting 
in defence of their country, success crowns virtuous attempt. With 
three hundred Lacedemonians, one only of whom was left to tell the 
fate of these intrepid men to their weeping country, they conquered 
the combined force of the whole eastern world. 

The privileges and immunities of the states of Holland, after a con 
test of forty years, in which they withstood the exertions of their 
powerful neighbors, being established by the force of this single prin 
ciple, which appears to prevail both in the senate and the field, might 
also be adduced in support of what I have advanced; but, my fellow- 
countrymen, we cannot want additional proofs; the living history of 
our own times, will carry conviction to the latest posterity, that no 
state, that no community, I may say that no family, nay, even that no 
individual, can possibly flourish and be happy without some portion 
of this sacred fire. It was this that raised America from being the 
haunt of the savage and the dwelling-place of the beast, to her present 
state of civilization and opulence: it was this that hath supported her 
under the severest trials: it was this that taught her sons to fight, to 
conquer, and to die, in support of freedom and its blessings; and 
what is it, but this ardent love of liberty, that has induced you, my 
fellow-citizens, to attend, on this solemn occasion, again to encourage 
the streams of sensibility, and to listen, with so much attention and 
candor, to one of the youngest of your fellow-citizens, whose youth 
and inability plead powerfully against him, while the annual tribute is 
paid to the memory of those departed citizens who fell the first sacri 
fices to arbitrary power. Check not such generous feelings. They 
are the fruits of virtue and humanity, and, while the obligations you 
remain under to those unhappy men lead you to shed the sympathetic 
tear, to dwell with pleasure upon their memories, and execrate the 
causes of their death, remember that you can never repay them. 
Ever bear it in your minds that, so implicit was the confidence you 
willingly placed in that country that owed to you her affection, that, 
notwithstanding the introduction of that inhuman weapon of tyrants 
into the very heart of your peaceful villages, you still would fain rely 


on their deceitful assertions, and paint the deformed monster to youi 
imaginations as the minister of peace and protection. Men, born in 
the bosom of liberty, in the exercise of the social affections in their 
full vigor, having once fixed them upon particular objects, they are 
not hastily eradicated. Unaccustomed to sport with, and wantonly 
sacrifice these sensible overflowings of the heart, to run the career of 
nassion and blinded lust, to be familiar with vice, and sneer at virtue, 
10 surprise innocence by deceitful cunning and assume the shape of 
friendship to conceal the greater enmity, you could not at once realize 
the fixed, the deliberate intention of those from whom you expected 
freedom, to load you with slavery and chains, and not till insult re 
peated upon insult; not till oppression stalked at noon-day through 
every avenue in your cities; nay, not till the blood of your peaceful 
brethren flowed through your streets, was the envenomed serpent to 
be discovered in the bushes; not till a general trespass had been made 
upon the keenest feelings of human nature, and the widowed mother 
was summoned to entomb the cold remains of her affectionate son; 
the virtuous bosom to resign its tender partner, and social circles 
their nearest friends, could you possibly convince yourselves that you 
and Britain were to be friends no more. Thrice happy day! the con 
sequences of which have taught the sons of America that a proper 
exercise of public spirit and the love of virtue hath been able to sur 
prise and baffle the most formidable and most powerful tyranny on 

Patriotism is a virtue which will ever be universally admired, even 
by those incapable of possessing it. Its happy effects are equally 
visible in individuals as in states, and if we bestow a moment s reflec 
tion upon the heroes of antiquity, who have been deservedly cele 
brated by succeeding generations, both for their abilities and conduct, 
we shall find that the true source of their greatness was this spirit of 
freedom, and their inviolable attachment to the interest of their coun 

With an attentive silence we listen to the historian while he relates 
to us the integrity of conduct, the invincible courage, the earnest glow 
of soul, and the ardent love of liberty which was exhibited in the lives 
of those illustrious men, and so great were their virtues that we are 
scarce able to credit them, but as the dreams of fancy, or the fictions 
of the ingenious. 

It is recorded of the celebrated Timolean, general of Corinth, 
that notwithstanding he was blest with a temper singularly humane, 
and with feelings that were ever roused at the miseries of his fellow- 
men, he loved his country so passionately, that after making use of 
every argument in his power to convince an elder brother of his error, 
for attempting to become the tyrant of it, he devoted him to death ; a 
brother on whom he had previous^ placed his affection, and whose 
life being exposed to the fire of the enemy in a severe battle, he had 


before saved at the great risk of his own. Even in old age, after a 
period of rigid retirement for twenty years, we are attracted by the 
disinterested conduct of this exalted patriot. 

When the Syracusians, groaning under every species of cruelty, 
which lust, avarice, and ambition could inflict, supplicated their gen 
erous neighbors for assistance to alleviate those miseries they them 
selves had been exposed to, Timolean, urged to accept the command 
of the Corinthian auxiliaries, at first hesitated, his age, his manners, 
his private happiness and the endearments of his family forbade it; 
but sensible that he was but a member of the community, and stung 
by the cries of innocence, his inclinations were of but trivial moment 
in competition with his duty. 

View him at the head of his chosen army, assembled to plead the 
cause of suffering virtue. In possession of arms and of power, if 
inclined to pervert them, are his principles changed with his station? 
are his thoughts bent on conquest or on death ? or does he entertain a 
secret wish to seize the moment of confidence, or build his greatness 
upon the ruins of the distressed, or to remove one tyrant to reinstate 
another ? no ! but fired with a generous glow of soul, fired with the 
manly sentiments of freedom, with an implacable hatred to oppression 
of all kinds, he marches his troops to the deliverance of his afflicted 
people, and with a firmness becoming soldiers fighting under the 
standard of liberty, after a series of fatigue and toil, harassing marches 
and fierce conflicts, he dethrones the tyrant, and is proclaimed the 
deliverer of Syracuse. Having restored tranquillity to this unhappy 
country, repeopled their cities, revived their laws, and dispensed 
justice to all ranks and classes, he resigned his command, and re 
treated once again to the private walks of life, accompanied with the 
grateful acknowledgments of millions, as the patron of their liberty 
and the saviour of their country. Happy man! endowed with such a 
noble soul, prone to feel for the misfortunes, and rejoice in the 
happiness of his fellow-creatures. 

But why need we resort to distant ages to furnish us with instance? 
of the effects of patriotism upon individuals ? will not the present day 
afford at least one illustrious example to our purpose ? yes, my fellow- 
countrymen, America, young America too, can boast her patriots and 
heroes, men who have saved their country by their virtues, whose 
characters posterity will admire, aud with a pleased attention, listen 
on tiptoe to the story of their glorious exertions. Let us pause a mo 
ment only upon the select catalogue, and take the first upon the list. 

View him in his private station, and here, as though Providence foi 
his excellencies had selected him for her own from the extensive circle 
of humanity, we perceive him enjoying her richest dispensations. By 
an affluent fortune, placed beyond the reach of poverty or depend 
ence, blessed with the social circle of friends, and happily connected 


by yet more endearing ties, peaceful reflections are his companions 
through the day, and the soothing slumbers of innocence hover over 
his couch; charity presides steward of his household, and the distress 
ed are ever sure to receive from his bosom that sigh which never fails 
to console, and from his cheek the alleviating tear of sympathy. Hav 
ing reached the summit of human felicity, beyond even the picture of 
his most sanguine expectations, it is indifferent to him, as an individu 
al, whether prince or people rule the state, but nurtured in the bosom 
of freedom, endowed with a greatness of soul, swallowed up with 
public spirit and the love of mankind, does oppression scatter her 
baleful prejudices, does ambition rear its guilty crest, friends, rela 
tions and fortunes are like the dust of the balance. The pleas 
of nature give way to those of his country, and urged on by heav 
enly motives, he flies instantly to her relief. See him, while grief dis 
tracts his bosom at the effusion of human blood, grasp the sword of 
justice and buckle on the harness of the warrior. See him, with forti 
tude unparalleled, with perseverance indefatigable, deaf to pleasure 
and despising corruption, cheerfully encountering the severest tasks 
of duty, and the hardest toils of a military life. Modest in prosperity 
and shining like a meteor in adversity, we behold this patriotic hero, 
Avith a small army of determined freemen, attacking fighting, and con 
quering an army composed of the bravest veteran troops of Britain. 

And shall we, my countrymen, stop the current of gratitude? and 
can we forbear testifying our joy upon the success of such singular ex 
ertions ? shall we seal his death before we thank him for his services ? 
by no means. Our acknowledgments will irresistibly flow from us to 
this deserved object of admiration, and his very actions will sting the 
soul of the ungrateful wretch, until he is forced to admire their lustre, 
and confess his inability to equal them. 

Some there are who, Roman-like, would banish him for his good 
conduct; but while we copy the spirit of this great people, let us not 
be as diligent to catch their vices. Such conduct is inconsistent with 
the sentiments of freemen, and surely we cannot forget that he has 
saved our country. 

Rewards and punishments are in the hands of the public, and it is 
equally consistent with .generosity and humanity to bestow the one, 
as inflict the other. We cannot be too cautious in the objects of our 
gratitude; let merit, conspicuous merit, be the standard to which our 
praises shall resort, and it will excite a noble emulation in others, and 
let us rather forbear that respect, which is too often found attendant 
upon the rich, though their wealth has been amassed with the ruin of 
their country. 

But the praises of us are not the patriot s only reward: with an ap 
proving conscience sweetening the declivity of life, his invitation is to 
the skies, there to receive a far more precious reward, for the estab- 


lishment of that principle to which, since the origin of mankind, heaven 
hath paid an immediate attention. 

" Where the brave youth with love of glory fired, 
Who greatly in his country s cause expired, 
Shall know he conquered. The firm patriot there, 
Who made the welfare of mankind his care, 
Though still by faction, vice, and fortune crost, 
Shall find his generous labor was not lost." Cato. 

Such is the progress of public spirit and the love of virtue, and it is 
the only pillar upon which can safely be erected the happiness of man 
kind. Without some play of the social affections in every society, 
without some barrier to oppose the stormy passions of individuals, 
without some general attachment to the public welfare, a door is open 
to ambition and political corruption; luxury and selfishness become 
fashionable vices, and the spirit of the government is perverted; the 
public good is neglected, the riches of the state insecure, the liberty of 
the subject slighted, and the attempt of the tyrant made successful by 
the follies of the people. 

What but the want of patriotism, that hath buried in ruins the 
mighty empires of Greece and Rome, that standing armies, the scourge 
of the innocent, prevail throughout all Europe, that the pages of his 
tory present to our view so melancholy a picture of the human species, 
and that America and Britain are not at this day running the road to 
greatness and glory in concert; and what is it but the want of patriot 
ism that could induce that haughty nation, divested of every public 
virtue, of every bosom feeling, of every pretension to humanity, with 
out apology or pretext, to" dsher a standing army, composed of va 
grants, criminals, and mercenaries, into our peaceful country. 

O my countrymen, it is the want of patriotism that we are at this 
time called to weep over the wanton massacre of innocent men; that 
this is not the only house of mourning; that the fields of America have 
become devoted to war, and scenes of slaughter familiar to her sons; 
that our oppressors yet persist in their destructive system of tyranny, 
and if their power was equal to their thirst of blood, with the spirit of 
ambition by which they are now directed, would lead them to destVoy 
andextirpate the whole human race. But thanks be to heaven, that 
by the force of those virtues which they have discarded, we have nobly 
resisted the attempts of these cruel men, and the miseries they have so 
profusely dealt out to us, are returning, with additional vengeance, 
upon their own heads. The danger of the issue is now past, and if 
we but retain the same patriotic ardor, with which we first defended 
our rights from the grasp of our enemies, they are every day in our 
power. We have everything to hope; they on the other hand have 
everything to fear.- Youth, vigor, and the invincible arm of justice, 
are on our side: The genius of liberty also is our advocate, who, 
though persecuted, hath never been conquered. 


In our day we are called to see a happy country laid waste at the 
shrine of ambition; to> experience those scenes of distress which his 
tory is filled with: but experience rivets fts lessons upon the mind, and 
if we resolve with deliberation, and execute with vigor, we may yet be 
a free and flourishing people. Repine not too much at the ravages of 
war, nor murmur at the dispensations of Providence. We oftentimes 
rate our blessings in proportion to the difficulty in attaining them, and 
if, without a struggle, we had secured our liberties, perhaps we should 
have been less sensible of their value. Chastisements in youth are 
not without their advantages; blessings most commonly spring from 
them in old age. They lead us to reflect seriously in the hour of re 
tirement, and to cherish thpse qualifications which are frequently lost 
in the glare of prosperity. 

The important prophecy is nearly accomplished- The rising glory 
of this western hemisphere is already announced, and she is summoned 
to her seat among the nations. We have publicly declared ourselves 
convinced of the destructive tendency of standing armies: we have ac 
knowledged the necessity of public spirit and the love of virtue to the 
happiness of any people, and we profess to be sensible of the great 
blessings that flow from them. Let us not then act unworthy of the 
reputable character we now sustain: like the nation we have aban 
doned, be content with freedom in form and tyranny in substance, 
profess virtue and practice vice, and convince an attentive world that 
in this glorious struggle for our lives and properties, the only men ca 
pable of prizing such exalted privileges, were an illustrious set of 
heroes, who have sealed their principles with their blood. Dwell, my 
fellow-citizens, upon the present situation of your country. Remem 
ber that though our enemies have dispensed with the hopes of conquer 
ing, our land is not entirely freed of them, and should our resistance 
prove unsuccessful by our cvvn inattention and inactivity, dealh will be 
far preferable to the yoke of bondage. 

Let us therefore be still vigilent over our enemies instil into our 
armies the righteous cause they protect and support, and let not the 
soldier and citizen be distinct characters among us. By our conduct 
let us convince them, that it is for the preservation of themselves and 
their country they are now fighting; that they, equally with us, are in 
terested in the event, and abandon them not to the insatiable rapacity 
of the greedy executioner. 

As a reward for our exertions in the great cause of freedom, we are 
now in the possession of those rights and privileges attendant upon 
the original state of nature, with the opportunity of establishing a 
government for ourselves, independent of any nation or any people 
upon the earth. We have the experience of ages to copy from, advan 
tages that have been denied to any that have gone before us. Let us 
then, my fellow-citizens, learn to value the blessing. Let integrity of 
heart, the spirit of freedom and rigid virtue be seen to actuate every 


member of the commonwealth. Let not party rage, private animosi 
ties, or self interested motives, succeed that religious attachment to 
the public weal which has brought us successfully thus far; for vain 
are all the boasted charms of liberty if her greatest votaries are guided 
by such base passions. The trial of our patriotism is yet before us, 
and we have reason to thank heaven that its principles are so well 
known and diffused. Exercise towards each other the benevolent feel 
ings of friendship, and let that unity of sentiment, which has shone 
in the field, be equally animating in our councils. 

Remember that prosperity is dangerous: that though successful, we 
are not infallible: that like the rest of mankind we are capable of 
erring. The line of our happiness may be traced with exactness, and 
still there may be a difficulty in pursuing it. Let us not forget that 
our enemies have other arts in store for our destruction; that they are 
tempting us into those snares which, after successful struggles, proved 
the ruin of the empires of the east; and let this sacred maxim receive 
the deepest impression upon our minds, that if avarice, if extortion, if 
luxury and political corruption, are suffered to become popular among 
us, civil discord and the ruin of our country will be the speedy conse 
quence of such fatal vices; but while patriotism is the leading princi 
ple, and our laws are contrived with wisdom, and executed with vigor, 
while industry, frugality and temperance are held in estimation, and 
we depend upon public spirit and the love of virtue for our social hap 
piness, peace and affluence will throw their smiles upon the brow of the 
individual, our commonwealth will flourish, our land become the land 
of liberty, and America an asylum for the oppressed. 


Newburgh, N. Y., June 18, 1783. 

SIR The object for which I had the honor to hold an appointment 
in the service of my country, being accomplished, I am now preparing 
to resign it into the hands of Congress, and return to that domestic re 
tirement, which, it is well known, I left with the greatest reluctance; 
a retirement for which I have never ceased to sigh through a long and 
painful absence, in which (remote from the noise and trouble of the 
world), I meditate to pass the remainder of life, in a state of undis 
turbed repose; but, before I carry this resolution into effect, I think it 
a duty incumbent on me to make this my last official communication, 
to congratulate you on the glorious events which heaven has been 
pleased to produce in our favor; to offer my sentiments respecting 
some important subjects, which appear to me to be intimately con 
nected with the tranquillity of the United States; to take my leave cf 


your excellency as a public character; and to give my final blessing to 
that country, in whose service I have spent the prime of my life, for 
whose sake I have consumed so many anxious days and watchful 
nights, and whose happiness, being extremely dear to me, will always 
constitute no inconsiderable part of my own. 

Impressed with the liveliest sensibility on this pleasing occasion, I 
will claim the indulgence of dilating the more copiously on the subject 
of our mutual felicitation. When we consider the magnitude of the 
prize we contended for, the doubtful nature of the contest and the fa 
vorable manner in which it has terminated, we shall find the greatest 
possible reason for gratitude and rejoicing. This is a theme that will 
afford infinite delight to every benevolent and liberal mind; whether 
the event in contemplation be considered as a source of present enjoy 
ment, or the parent of future happiness; and we shall have equal oc 
casion to felicitate ourselves on the lot which Providence has assigned 
us, whether we view it in a natural, a political, or moral point of light. 

The citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condition, as the 
sole lords and proprietors of a vast tract of continent, comprehending 
all the various soils and climates of the world, and abounding with all 
the necessaries and conveniences of life, are now, by the late satisfac 
tory pacification, acknowledged to be possessed of absolute freedom and 
independency: they are from this period to be considered as the actors 
on a most conspicuous theatre, which seems to be peculiarly designed 
by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity. Here 
they are not only surrounded with every thing that can contribute to 
the completion of private and domestic enjoyment, but heaven has 
crowned all its other blessings, by giving a surer opportunity for politi 
cal happiness, than any other nation has ever been favored with. 
Nothing can illustrate these observations more forcibly than a recol 
lection of the happy conjuncture of times and circumstances, under 
which our republic assumed its rank among the nations. The founda 
tion of our empire was not laid in a gloomy age of ignorance and su 
perstition, but at an epocha when the rights of mankind were better 
understood and more clearly defined, than at any former period. Re 
searches of the human mind after social happiness have been carried 
to a great extent; the treasures of knowledge acquired by the labors of 
philosophers, sages, and legislators, through a long succession of years 
are laid open for us, and their collected wisdom may be happily ap 
plied in the establishment of our forms of government. The free cul 
tivation of letters, the unbounded extension of commerce, the progres 
sive refinement of manners, the growing liberality of sentiment, and, 
above all, the pure and benign light of revelation, have had a meliora 
ting influence on mankind, and increased the blessings of society. At 
this auspicious period, the United States came into existence as a na 
tion; and if their citizens should not be completely free and happy, 
the fault will be entirely their own. 


Such is our situation, and such are our prospects. But notwith 
standing the cup of blessing is thus reached out to us; notwithstanding 
happiness is ours, if we have a disposition to seize the occasion, and 
make it our own, yet it appears to me there is an option still left to 
the United States of America, whether they will be respectable and 
prosperous, or contemptible and miserable as a nation. This is the 
time of their political probation: this is the moment when the eyes of 
the whole world are turned upon them: this is the time to establish or 
ruin their national character forever: this is the favorable moment to 
give such r. tone to the federal government, as will enable it to answer 
the ends of its institution: or, this may be the ill-fated moment for re 
laxing the powers of the union, annihilating the cement of the confed 
eration, and exposing us to become the sport of European politics, 
which may play one state against another, to prevent their growing 
importance, and to serve their own interested purposes. For, accord 
ing to the system of policy the states shall adopt at this moment, they 
will stand or fall; and by their confirmation or lapse, it is yet to be de 
cided, whether the revolution must ultimately be considered as a bless 
ing or a curse, not to the present age alone, for with our fate will the 
destiny of unborn millions be involved. 

With this conviction of the importance of the present crisis, silence 
in me would be a crime; I will therefore speak to your excellency the 
language of freedom and sincerity, without disguise. I am aware, 
however, those who differ from me in political sentiments may, per 
haps, remark, I am stepping out of the proper line of my duty; and 
they may probably ascribe to arrogance or ostentation, what I know is 
alone the result of the purest intention. But the rectitude of my own 
heart, which disdains such unworthy motives; the part I have hitherto 
acted in life; the determination I have formed of not taking any share 
in public business hereafter, the ardent desire I feel, and shall continue 
to manifest, of quietly enjoying in private life, after all the toils of war, 
the benefits of a wise and liberal government, will, I flatter myself, 
sooner or later, convince my country, that I could have no sinister 
views in delivering, with so little reserve, the opinion contained in this 

There are four things which, I humbly conceive, are essential to 
the well being, I may even venture to say, to the existence, of the 
United States, as an independent power. 

ist. An indissoluble union of the states under one federal head. 

2dly. A sacred regard to public justice. 

3dly. The adoption of a proper peace establishment. And, 

4thly. The prevalence of that pacific and friendly disposition among 
the people of the United States, which will induce them to forget their 
local prejudices and policies; to make those mutual concessions which 
are requisite to the general prosperity; and in some instances, to sac 
rifice their individual advantages to the interest of the community. 


These are the pillars on which the glorious fabric of our indepen 
dency and national character must be supported. Liberty is the basis 
and whoever would dare to sap the foundation, or overturn the 
structure, under whatever specious pretext he may attempt it, will 
merit the bitterest execration, and the severest punishment, which can 
be afflicted by his injured country. 

On the three first articles I will make a few observations, leaving 
the last to the good sense and serious consideration of those immedi 
ately concerned. 

Under the first head, although it may not be necessary or proper 
for me in this place to enter into a particular disquisition of the prin 
ciples of the union, and to take up the great question which has been 
frequently agitated, whether it be expedient and requisite for the states 
to delegate a larger proportion of power to Congress, or not; yet it 
will be a part of my duty, and that of every true patriot, to assert, 
without reserve, and to insist upon the following positions: That, un 
less the states will suffer Congress to exercise those prerogatives they 
are mdoubtedly invested with by the constitution, every thing must 
very rapidly tend to anarchy and confusion: That it is indispensable 
to the happiness of the individual states, that there should be lodged, 
somewhere, a supreme power to regulate and govern the general con 
cerns of the confederated republic, without which the union cannot be 
of long duration. That there must be a faithful and pointed compli 
ance on the part of every state with the late proposals and demands of 
Congress, or the most fatal consequences will ensue: That whatever 
measures have a tendency to dissolve the union, or contribute to vio 
late or lessen the sovereign authority, ought to be considered as hos 
tile to the liberty and independence of America, and the authors of 
them treated accordingly. And, lastly, that, unless we can be enabled 
by the concurrence of the states to participate in the fruits of the revo 
lution, and enjoy the essential benefits of civil society, under a form of 
government so free and uncorrupted, so happily guarded against the 
danger of oppression, as has been devised and adopted by the articles 
of confederation, it will be a subject of regret, that so much blood and 
treasure have been lavished for no purpose; that so many sufferings 
have been encountered without a compensation, and that so many 
sacrifices have been made in vain. Many other considerations might 
here be adduced to prove, that, without an entire conformity to the 
spirit of the union, we cannot exist as an independent power. It will 
be sufficient for my purpose to mention but one or two, which seem to 
me of the greatest importance. It is only in our united character as 
an empire, that our independence is acknowledged, that our power 
can be regarded, or our credit supported among foreign nations. The 
treaties of the European powers with the United States of America, 
will have no validity on a dissolution of the union. We shall be left 
nearly in a state of nature; or we may find, by our own unhappy ex- 


perience, that there is a natural and necessary progression from the ex 
treme of anarchy to the extreme of tyranny; and that arbitrary power is 
most easily established on the ruins of liberty, abused to licentiousness. 

As to the second article, which respects the performance of public 
justice, Congress have, in their late address tc the United States, 
almost exhausted the subject; they have explained their ideas so fully, 
and have enforced the obligations the states are under to render com 
plete justice to all the public creditors, with so much dignity and en 
ergy, that, in my opinion, no real friend to the honor and independ 
ency of America can hesitate a single moment respecting the pro 
priety of complying with the just and honorable measures proposed. 
If their arguments do not produce conviction, I know of nothing that 
will have greater influence, especially when we reflect that the system 
referred to, being the result of the collected wisdom of the continent, 
must be esteemed, if not perfect, certainly the least objectionable, of 
any that could be devised; and that, if it should not be carried into 
immediate execution, a national bankruptcy, with all its deplorable 
consequences, will take place before any different plan can possibly be 
proposed or adopted; so pressing are the present circumstances, and 
such is the alternative now offered to the states. 

The ability of the country to discharge the debts which have been 
incurred in its defence, is not to be doubted; and inclination, I flatter 
myself, will not be wanting. The path of our duty is plain before us; 
honesty will be found, on every experiment, to be the best and only 
true policy. Let us then, as a nation, be just; let us fulfil the public 
contracts which Congress had undoubtedly a right to make for the pur 
pose of carrying on the war, with the same good faith we suppose our 
selves bound to perform our private engagements. In the meantime, 
let an attention to the cheerful performance of their proper business, 
as individuals, and as members of society, be earnestly inculcated on 
the citizens of America; then will they strengthen the bands of govern 
ment, and be happy under its protection. Every one will reap the 
fruit of his labors: every one will enjoy his own acquisitions, without 
molestation and without danger. 

In this state of absolute freedom and perfect security, who will 
grudge to yield a very little of his property to support the common in 
terests of society, and ensure the protection of government ? Who 
does not remember the frequent declarations at the commencement of 
the war that we should be completely satisfied if, at the expense of 
one half, we could defend the remainder of our possessions ? Where 
is the man to be found, who wishes to remain in debt, for the defence 
of his own person and property, to the exertions, the bravery, and the 
blood of others, without making one generous effort to pay the debt 
of honor and of gratitude ? In what part of the continent shall we 
find any man, or body of men, who would not blush to stand up and 
propose measures purposely calculated to rob the soldier of his stipend, 


and the public creditor of his due ? And were it possible that such a 
flagrant instance of injustice could ever happen, would it not excite 
the general indignation, and tend to bring down upon the authors of 
such measures the aggravated vengeance of Heaven ? If, after all, a 
spirit of disunion, or a temper of obstinacy and perverseness should 
manifest itself in any of the states; if such an ungracious disposition 
should attempt to frustrate all the happy effect that might be expected 
to flow from the union; if there should be a refusal to comply with re 
quisitions for funds to discharge the annual interest of the public 
debt; and if that refusal should revive all those jealousies, and pro 
duce all those evils, which are now happily removed, Congress, who 
have in all their transactions shown a great degree of magnanimity and 
justice, will stand justified in the sight of God and man ! and that state 
alone, which puts itself in opposition to the aggregate wisdom of the 
continent, and follows such mistaken and pernicious councils, will be 
responsible for all the consequences. 

For my own part, conscious of having acted, while a servant of the 
public, in the manner I conceived best suited to promote the real in 
terests of my country; having, in consequence of my fixed belief in 
some measure pledged myself to the army, that their country would 
finally do them complete and ample justice, and not wishing to con 
ceal any instance of my official conduct from the eyes of the world, I 
have thought proper to transmit to your excellency the enclosed col 
lection of papers relative to the half-pay and commutation granted by 
Congress, to the officers of the army. From these communications 
my decided sentiment will be clearly comprehended, together with the 
conclusive reasons which induced me, at an early period, to recommend 
the adoption of this measure in the most earnest and serious manner. 
As the proceedings of Congress, the army, and myself, are open to 
all, and contain, in my opinion, sufficient information to remove the 
prejudices and errors which may have been entertained by any, I 
think it unnecessary to say anything more than just to observe, 
that the resolutions of Congress, now alluded to, are as undoubtedly 
and absolutely binding upon the United States, as the most solemn 
acts of confederation or legislation. 

As to the idea which, I am informed, has in some instances pre 
vailed, that the half-pay and commutation are to be regarded merely 
in the odious light of a pension, it ought to be exploded forever; that 
provision should be viewed, as it really was, a reasonable compensa 
tion offered by Congress, at a time when they had nothing else to 
give to officers of the army, for services then to be performed. It was 
the only means to prevent a total dereliction of the service. It was a 
part of their hire. I may be allowed to say, it was the price of their 
blood and of your independency. It is therefore more than a common 
debt; it is a debt of honor; it can never be considered as a pension, 
or gratuity, nor cancelled until it is fairly discharged. 


With regard to the distinction between officers and soldiers, it s 
sufficient that the uniform experience of every nation of the work!, 
combined with our own, proves the utility and propriety of the dis 
crimination. Rewards, in proportion to the aid the public draws from 
them, are unquestionably due to all its servants. In some lines, the 
soldiers have, perhaps, generally, had an ample compensation for 
their services, by the large bounties which have been paid them, as 
their officers will receive in the proposed commutation, in others, if, 
besides the donation of land, the payment of arreages of clothing and 
wages (in which articles all the component parts of the army must be 
put upon the same footing), we take into the estimate the bounties 
many of the soldiers have received, and the gratuity of one year s full 
pay, which is promised to all, possibly their situation (every circum 
stance being duly considered), will not be deemed less eligible than that 
of the officers. Should a farther reward, however, be judged equitable, 
I will venture to assert, no man will enjoy greater satisfaction than 
myself, in an exemption from taxes for a limited time (which has been 
petitioned for in some instances), or any other adequate immunity 
or compensation granted to the brave defenders of their country s 
cause. But neither the adoption or rejection of this proposition will, 
in any manner, affect, much less militate against the act of Congress, 
by which they have offered five years full pay, in lieu of the half 
pay for 1 fe, which had been before promised to the officers of the 

Before I conclude the subject on public justice, I cannot omit to 
mention the obligations this country is under to that meritorious class 
of veterans, the non-commissioned officers and privates, who have 
been discharged for inability, in consequence of the resolution of 
Congress, of the 23d of April, 1782, on an annual pension for life. 
Their peculiar sufferings, their singular merits and claims to that 
provision, need only to be known, to interest the feelings of humanity 
in their behalf. Nothing but a punctual payment of their annual 
allowance, can rescue them from the most complicated misery; and 
"othing could be a more melancholy and distressing sight than to be 
hold those who have shed their blood, or lost their limbs in the ser 
vice of their country, without a shelter, without a friend, and without 
the means of obtaining any of the comforts or necessaries of life, com 
pelled to beg their 1 r^ad daily from door to door. Suffer me to recom 
mend those of this description, belonging to your state, to the warmest 
patronage of your excellency and your legislature. 

It is necessary to say but a few words on the third topic which 
was proposed, and which regards particularly the defence of the re 
public as there can be little doubt but Congress will recommend a 
proper peace establishment for the United States, in which a due at 
tention will be paid to the importance of placing the militia of the 
union upon a regular and respectable footing. If this should be the 


case, I should beg leave to urge the great advantage of it in the 
strongest terms. 

The militia of this country must be considered as the palladium 
of our security, and the first effectual resort in case of hostility. It is 
essential, therefore, that the same system should pervade the whole; 
that the formation and discipline of the militia of the continent shou d 
be absolutely uniform; and that the same species of arms, accoutre 
ment, and military apparatus, should be introduced in every part of 
the United States. No one, who has not learned it from experience, 
can conceive the difficulty, expense, and confusion, which result from 
a contrary system, or the vague arrangements which have hitherto 

If, in treating of political points, a greater latitude than usual has 
been taken in the course of the address, the importance of the crisis, 
and the magnitude of the objects in discussion, must be my apology. 
It is, however, neither my wish nor expectation, that the preceding 
observations should claim any regard, except so far as they shall ap 
pear to be dictated by a good intention, consonant to the immutable 
rules of justice; calculated to produce a liberal system of policy, and 
founded on whatever experience may have been acquired by a long 
and close attention to public business. Here I might speak with more 
confidence from my actual observations; and, if it would not swell 
this letter (already too prolix), beyond the bounds I had prescribed 
myself, I could demonstrate to every mind open to conviction, that, 
in less time, and with much less expense than has been incurred, the 
war might have been brought to the same happy conclusion, if the 
resources of the continent could have been properly called forth; that 
the distresses and disappointments which have very often occurred, 
have, in too many instances, resulted more from a want of energy in 
the continental government than a deficiency of means in the particu 
lar states; that the inefficacy of the measures, arising from the want 
of an adequate authority in the supreme power, from partial compli 
ance with the requisitions of Congress, in some of the states, and 
from a failure of punctuality in others, while they tended to damp the 
zeal of those who were more willing to exert themselves, served also 
to accumulate the expenses of the war, and to frustrate the best con 
certed plans; and that the discouragement occasioned by the compli 
cated difficulties and embarrassments, in which our affairs were by 
this means involved, would have long ago produced the dissolution 
of any army, less patient, less virtuous, and less persevering, than 
that which I have had the honor to command. But, while I men 
tion those things which are notorious facts, as the defects of our 
federal constitution, particularly in the prosecution of a war, I beg it 
may be understood, that, as I have ever taken a pleasure in gratefully 
acknowledging the assistance and support I have derived from every 
class of citizens, so I shall always be happy to do justice to the un- 


paralleled exertions of the individual states, on many interesting occa 

I have thus freely disclosed what I wished to make known before 
I surrendered up my public trust to those who committed it to me. 
The task is now accomplished; I now bid adieu to your excellency, 
as the chief magistrate of your state; at the same time I bid a last 
farewell to the cares of office, and all the employments of public life. 

It remains, then, to be my final and only request, that your excel 
lency will communicate these sentiments to your Legislature at their 
next meeting, and that they may be considered as the legacy of one 
who has ardently wished, on all occasions, to be useful to his country, 
and who, even in the shade of retirement, will not fail to implore the 
Divine benediction upon it. 

I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you, and 
the state over which you preside, in His holy protection; that He 
would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordi 
nation and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affec 
tion and love for one another; for their fellow-citizens of the United 
States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in 
the field; and, finally, that he would most graciously be pleased to 
dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves 
with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of the mind, which 
were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, 
without an humble imitation of whose example, in these things, we 
can never hope to be a happy nation. 

I have the honor to be, with much esteem and respect, sir, your 
excellency s most obedient and most humble servant. 



Princeton, November 2, 1783. 

The United States in Congress assembled, after giving the most hon 
orable testimony to the merits of the federal armies, and presenting 
them with the thanks of their country for their long, eminent, and 
faithful services, having thought proper, by their proclamation bear 
ing date the i8th day of October last, to discharge such part of the 
troops as were engaged for the war, and to permit the officers on fur 
loughs to retire from service, from and after to-morrow; which procla 
mation having been communicated in the public papers for the infor 
mation and government of all concerned, it only remains for the 
Commander-in-chief to address himself once more, and that for the 
last time, to the armies of the United States (however widely dispersed 


the individuals who composed them may be), and to bid them an affec 
tionate, a long farewell. 

But before the Commander-in-chief takes his final leave of those he 
holds most dear, he wishes to indulge himself a few moments in calling 
to mind a slight review of the past. He will then take the liberty of 
exploring with his military friends their future prospects, of advising 
the general line of conduct, which, in his opinion, ought to be pur 
sued; and he will conclude the address by expressing the obligations 
he fells himself under for the spirited and able assistance he has ex- 
perienced from them, in the performance of an arduous office. 

A contemplation of the complete attainment (at a period earlier than 
could have been expected) of the object, for which we contended 
against so formidable a power, cannot but inspire us with astonish 
ment and gratitude. The disadvantageous circumstances on our part, 
under which the war was undertaken, can never be forgotten. The 
singular interpositions of Providence in our feeble condition were 
such, as could scarcely escape the attention of the most unobserving; 
while the unparalleled perseverance of the armfes of the United States, 
through almost every possible suffering and discouragement for the 
space of eight long years, was little short of a standing miracle. 

It is not the meaning nor within the compass of this address, to de 
tail the hardships peculiarly incident to our service, or to describe the 
distresses, which in several instances have resulted from the extremes 
of hunger and nakedness, combined with the rigors of an inclement 
season; nor is it necessary to dwell on the dark side of our past affairs. 
Every American officer and soldier must now console himself for any 
unpleasant circumstances, which may have occurred, by a recollection 
of the uncommon scenes of which he has been called to act no in 
glorious part, and the astonishing events of which he has been a wit 
ness; events, which have seldom, if ever before, taken place on the 
stage of human action; nor can they probably ever happen again. 
For who has before seen a disciplined army formed at once from such 
raw materials ? Who, that was not a witness, could imagine, that the 
most violent local prejudices would cease so soon; and that men, who 
came from the different parts of the continent, strongly disposed by 
the habits of education to despise and quarrel with each other, would 
instantly become but one patriotic band of brothers ? Or who, that 
was not on the spot, can trace the steps by which such a wonderful 
revolution has been effected, and such a glorious period put to all our 
warlike toils? 

It is universally acknowledged, that the enlarged prospects of hap 
piness, opened by the confirmation of our independence and sover 
eignty, almost exceed the power of description. And shall not the 
brave men, who have contributed so essentially to these inestimable 
acquisitions, retiring victorious from the field of war to the field of 
agriculture, participate in all the blessings, which have been obtained? 


In such a republic, who will exclude them from the rights of citizens, 
and the fruits of their labor? In such a country, so happily circum 
stanced, the pursuits of commerce and the cultivation of the soil will un 
fold to industry the certain road to competence. To those hardy sol 
diers, who are actuated by the spirit of adventure, the fisheries will 
afford ample and profitable employment; and the extensive and fertile 
regions of the West will yield a most happy asylum to those, who, 
fond of domestic enjoyment, are seeking for personal independence. 
Nor is it possible to conceive that any one of the United States will 
prefer a national bankruptcy, and a dissolution of the Union, to a com 
pliance with the requisitions of Congress, and the payment of its just 
debts; so that the officers and soldiers may expect considerable assist 
ance, in recommencing their civil occupations, from the sums due 
to them from the public, which must and will most inevitably be 

In order to effect this desirable purpose, and to remove the preju 
dices, which may have taken possession of the minds of any of the 
good people of the States, it is earnestly recommended to all the troops, 
that, with strong attachments to the Union, they should carry with 
them into civil society the most conciliating dispositions, and that they 
should prove themselves not less virtuous and useful as citizens, than 
they have been persevering and victorious as soldiers. What though 
there should be some envious individuals, who are unwilling to pay the 
debt the public has contracted, or to yield the tribute due to merit; yet 
let such unworthy treatment produce no invectives, nor any instance 
of intemperate conduct. Let it be remembered, that the unbiassed 
voice of the free citizens of the United States has promised the just 
reward and given the merited applause. Let it be known and remem 
bered, that the reputation of the federal armies is established beyond 
the reach of malevolence; and let a consciousness of their achievements 
and fame still incite the men, who composed them, to honorable 
actions; under the persuasion that the private virtues of economy, pru 
dence, and industry, will not be less amiable in civil life, than the 
more splendid qualities of valor, perseverance, and enterprise were in 
the field. Every one may rest assured, that much, very much, of the 
future happiness of the officers and men, will depend upon the wise 
and manly conduct, which shall be adopted by them when they are 
mingled with the great body of the community. And, although the 
General has so frequently given it as his opinion in the most public 
and explicit manner, that, unless the principles of the Federal Gov 
ernment were properly supported, and the powers of the Union in 
creased, the honor, dignity, and justice of the nation, would be lost 
for ever; yet he cannot help repeating, on this occasion, so interesting 
a sentiment, and leaving it as his last injunction to every officer and 
every soldier, who may view the subject in the same serious point of 
light, to add his best endeavors to those of his worthy fellow citizens 


towarcfs effecting these great and valuable purposes, on which our very 
existence as a nation so materially depends. 

The Commander-in-chief conceives little is now wanting, to enable 
the soldfers to change the military character into that of the citizen, 
but that steady and decent tenor of behavior, which has generally dis 
tinguished, not only the army under his immediate command, but the 
different detachments and separate armies through the course of the 
war. From their good sense and prudence he anticipates the happiest 
consequences; and, while he congratulates them on the glorious occa 
sion, which renders their services in the field no longer necessary, he 
wishes to express the strong obligations he feels himself under for 
the assistance he has received from every class and in ever instance. 
He presents his thanks in the most serious and affectionate manner 
to the general officers, as well for their counsel on many interesting 
occasions, as for their ardor in promoting the success of the plans he 
had adopted; to the commandants of regiments and corps, and to the 
other officers, for their great zeal and attention in carrying his orders 
promptly into execution; to the staff, for their alacrity and exactness 
in performing the duties of their several departments; and to the non 
commissioned officers and private soldiers, for their extraordinary 
patience and suffering, as well as their invincible fortitude in action. 
To the various branches of the army, the General takes this last and 
solemn opportunity of professing his inviolable attachment and friend 
ship. He wishes more than bare professions were in his power; that 
he were .really able to be useful to them all in future life. He flatters 
himself, however, they will do him the justice to believe, that what 
ever could with propriety be attempted by him has been done. 

And being now to conclude these his last public orders, to take his 
ultimate leave in a short time of the military character, and to bid a 
final adieu to the armies he has so long had the honor to command, he 
can only again offer in their behalf his recommendations to their grateful 
country, and his prayers to the God of armies. May ample justice 
be done them here, and may the choicest of Heaven s favors, boih 
here and hereafter, attend those, who, under the Divine auspices, 
have secured innumerable blessings for others. With these wishes 
and his benediction, the Commander-in-chief is about to retire from 
service. The curtain of separation will soon be drawn, and the mili 
tary scene to him v/ill be closed for ever. 



New York, December 23, 1783. 

MR. PRESIDENT : The great events on which my resignation de 
pended, having at length taken place, I have now the honor of offer 
ing my sincere congratulations to Congress, and of presenting myself 
before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, 
and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my 

Happy in the confirmation of our independence and sovereignty, 
and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becom 
ing a respectable nation, I resign, with satisfaction, the appointment 
I accepted with diffidence ; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish 
so arduous a task, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in 
the rectitude of our cause, the support of the Supreme Power of the 
union, and the patronage of Heaven. 

The successful termination of the war has verified the most san 
guine expectations ; and my gratitude for the interposition of Provi 
dence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, in 
creases with every review of the momentous contest. 

While I repeat my obligations to the army in general, I should do 
injustice to my own feelings, not to acknowledge, in this place, the 
peculiar services and distinguished merits of the persons who have 
been attached to my person during the war. It was impossible the 
choice of confidential officers to compose my family could have been 
more fortunate. Permit me, sir, to recommend in particular those 
who have continued in the service to the present moment as worthy of 
the favorable notice and patronage of Congress. 

I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act 
of my official life, by commending the interests of our dearest coun 
try to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the super 
intendence of them to his holy keeping. 

Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great 
theatre of action; and, bidding an affectionate farewell to this august 
body, under whose orders I have long acted, I here offer my commis 
sion, and take my leave of all the employments of public life. 



Philadelphia, 1737. 

There is nothing more common than 10 confound the terms of 
American Revolution with those of the late American War, The 
American war is over: but this is far from being the case with the 
American revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of 
the great drama is closed. It remains yet to establish and perfect our 
new forms of government; and to prepare the principles, morals, an 1 
manners of our citizens for these forms of government, after they are 
established and brought to perfection. 

The confederation, together with most of our State constitutions, 
were formed under very unfavorable circumstances. We had just 
emerged from a corrupted monarchy. Although we understood per 
fectly the principles of liberty, yet most of us were ignorant of the 
forms and combinations of power in republics. Add to this, the 
British army was in the heart of our country, spreading desolation 
wherever it went: our resentments, of course, were awakened. We 
detested the British name, and unfortunately refused to copy some 
things in the administration of justice and power, in the British Gov 
ernment, which have made it the admiration and envy of the world. 
In our opposition to monarchy, we forgot that the temple of tyranny 
has two doors. We bolted one of them by proper restraints; but we 
left the other open, by neglecting to guard against the effects of our 
own ignorance and licentiousness. 

Most of the present difficulties of this country arise from the weak, 
ness and other defects of our governments. 

My business at present shall be only to suggest the defects of the 
confederation. These consist ist. In the deficiency of coercive 
power. 2d. In a defect of exclusive power to issue paper money, 
and regulate commerce. 3d. In vesting the sovereign power of the 
United States in a single legislature: and 4th. In the too frequent nx 
tation of its members. 

A convention is to sit soon for the purpose of devising means of 
obviating part of the two first defects that have been mentioned. But 
I wish they may add to their recommendations to each State to sur^ 
render up to Congress their power of emitting money. In this way, 
a uniform currency will be produced, that will facilitate trade, and 
help to bind the States together. Nor will the States be deprived of 
large sums of money by this means, when sudden emergencies require 
it; for they may always borrow them, as they did during the war, out 
of the treasury of Congress. Even a loan office may be better insti 
tuted in this way, in each State, than in any other. 


The two last defects that have been mentioned are not of less mag 
nitude than the first. Indeed, the single legislature of Congress will 
become more dangerous from an increase of power than ever. To 
remedy this, let the supreme federal power be divided, like the legisla 
tures of most of our States, into two distinct, independent branches. 
Let one of them be styled the Council of the States and the other the 
Assembly of the States. Let the first consist of a single delegate - 
and the second of two, three, or four delegates, chosen annually by 
each State. Let the president be chosen annually by the joint ballot of 
both Houses; and let him possess certain powers, in conjunction with 
a privy council, especially the power of appointing most of the officers 
of the United States. The officers will not only be better when ap 
pointed this way, but one of the principal causes of faction will be 
thereby removed from Congress. I apprehend this division of the 
power of Congress will become more necessary as soon as they are 
invested with more ample powers of levying -and expending public 

The custom of turning men out of power or office as soon as they 
are qualified for it, has been found to be absurd in practice. Is it 
virtuous to dismiss a general a physician or even a domestic, as 
soon as they have acquired knowledge sufficient to be useful to us, for 
thd ake of increasing the number of able generals, skilful physicians 
and faithful servants? We do not. Government is a science, and 
can never be perfect in America until we encourage men to devote not 
only three years, but their whole lives to it. I believe the principal 
reason why so many men of abilities object to serving in Congress is 
owing to their not thinking it worth while to spend three years in 
acquiring a profession which their country immediately afterwards for 
bids them to follow. 

There are two errors or prejudices on the subject of government in 
America, which lead to the most dangerous consequences. 

It is often said, " that the sovereign and all other power is seated in 
the people." This idea is unhappily expressed. It should be, "all 
power is derived from the people," they possess it only on the days of 
their elections. After this, it is the property of their rulers; nor can 
they exercise or resume it unless it be abused. It is of importance to 
circulate this idea, as it leads to order and good government. 

The people of America have mistaken the meaning of the word 
sovereignty: hence each state pretends to be sovereign. In Europe, 
it is applied only to those states which possess the power of making 
war and peace of forming treaties, and the like. As this power be 
longs only to Congress, they are the only sovereign power in the 
United States. 

We commit a similar mistake in our ideas of the word independent. 
No individual state, as such, has any claim to independence. She is 
independent only in a union with her sister states in congress. 


To conform the principles, morals, and manners of our citizens, to 
our republican forms of government, it is absolutely necessary that 
knowledge of every kind should be disseminated through every part 
of the United States. 

For this purpose let Congress, instead of laying out a half a million 
of dollars in building a federal town, appropriate only a fourth of that 
sum in founding a federal university. In this university let every 
thing connected with government, such as history the law of nature 
and nations, the civil law, the municipal laws of our country, and 
the principles of commerce be taught by competent professors. Let 
masters be employed, likewise, to teach gunnery, fortification, and 
everything connected with defensive and offensive war. Above all, 
let a professor of, what is called in the European universities, economy, 
be established in this federal seminary. His business should be to 
unfold the principles and practice of agriculture and manufactures of 
all kinds, and to enable him to make his lectures more extensively use 
ful, Congress should support a travelling correspondent for him, who 
should visit all the nations of Europe, and transmit to him, from 
time to time, all the discoveries and improvements that are made in 
agriculture and manufactures. To this seminary young men should 
be encouraged to repair, after completing their academical studies in 
the colleges of their respective states. The honors and offices of the 
United States should, after a while, be confined to persons who had 
imbibed federal and republican ideas in this university. 

For the purpose of diffusing knowledge, as well as extending the 
living principle of government to every part of the United States 
every State, city, county, village, and township in the Union should 
be tied together by means of the post office. This is the true non 
electric wire of government. It is the only means of conveying heat 
and light to every individual in the federal commonwealth. " Swe 
den lost her liberties," says the Abbe Raynal, " because her citizens 
were so scattered that they had no means of acting in concert with 
each other." It should be a constant injunction to the postmasters to 
convey newspapers free of all charge for postage. They are not only 
the vehicles of knowledge and intelligence, but the sentinels of the 
liberties of our country. 

The conduct of some of those strangers who have visited our country 
since the peace, and who fill the British papers with accounts of our 
distresses, shows as great a want of good sense as it does of good 
nature. They see nothing but the foundations and walls of the temple 
of liberty; and yet they undertake to judge of the whole fabric. 

Our own citizens act a still more absurd part when they cry out, 
after the experience of three or four years, that we are not proper 
materials for republican government. Remember, we assumed these 
forms of government in a hurry, before we were prepared for them. 
Let every man exert himself in promoting virtue and knowledge in 


our country, and we shall soon become good republicans. Look at 
the steps by which governments have been changed, or rendered stable 
in Europe. Read the history of Great Britain. Her boasted govern 
ment has risen out of wars and rebellions that lasted above six hun 
dred years. The United States are travelling peaceably into order and 
good government. They know no strife but what arises from the 
collision of opinions; and, in three years, they have advanced further 
in the road to stability and happiness than most of the nations in 
Europe have done, in as many centuries. 

There is but one path that can lead the United States to destruction; 
and that is their extent of territory. It was probably to effect this 
that Great Britain ceded to us so much waste land. But even this 
path may be avoided. Let but one new state be exposed to sale at a 
time, and let the land office be shut up till every part of this new state 
be settled. 

I am extremely sorry to find a passion for retirement so universal 
among the patriots and heroes of the war. They resemble skilful 
mariners who, after exerting themselves to preserve a ship from sink 
ing in a storm, in the middle of the ocean, drop asleep as soon as the 
waves subside, and leave the care of their lives and property, during 
the remainder of the voyage, to sailors without knowledge or experi 
ence. Every man in a republic is public property. His time and 
talents, his youth, his manhood, his old age; nay more, his life, his 
all, belong to his country. 

Patriots of 1774, 1775, 1776 heroes of 1778, 1779, 1780, come for 
ward! your country demands your services. Philosophers and friends 
to mankind come forward! your country demands your studies and 
speculations. Lovers of peace and order, who declined taking part in 
the late war, come forward! your country forgives your timidity and 
demands your influence and advice. Hear her proclaiming, in sighs 
and groans, in her governments, in her finances, in her trade, in her 
manufactures, in her morals and in her manners, " The Revolution is 
not over. 



Faneuil Hall^ Boston, A ugust 2, 1826. 

This is an unaccustomed spectacle. For the first time, fellow 
citizens, badges of mourning shroud the columns and overhang the 
arches of this hall. These walls, which were consecrated so long ago 
to the cause of American liberty, which witnessed her infant struggles, 
and rung with the shouts of her earliest victories, proclaim now that 
distinguished friends and champions of the great cause have fallen. It 


is right that it should be thus. The tears which flow, and the honors 
that are paid, when the founders of the republic die, give hope that 
the republic itself may be immortal. It is fit that by public assembly 
and solemn observance, by anthem and by eulogy, we commemorate 
the services of national benefactors, extol their virtues, and render 
thanks to God for eminent blessings, early given and long-continued, 
to our favored country. 

Adams and Jefferson are no more; and we are assembled, fellow- 
citizens the aged, the middle-aged, and the young by the spontaneous 
impulse of all, under the authority of the municipal government, with 
the presence of the chief magistrate of the commonwealth, and others 
its official representatives, the university, and the learned societies, to 
bear our part in those manifestations of respect and gratitude which 
universally pervade the land. Adams and Jefferson are no more. On 
our fiftieth anniversary, the great day of national jubilee, in the very 
hour of public rejoicing, in the midst of echoing and re-echoing voices 
of thanksgiving, while their own names were on all tongues, they took 
their flight together to the world of spirits. 

If it be true that no one can safely be pronounced happy while he 
lives: if that event which terminates life can alone crown its honors 
and its glory, what felicity is here! The great epic of their lives, how 
happily concluded! Poetry itself has hardly closed illustrious lives 
and finished the career of earthly renown, by such a consummation. 
If we had the power we could not wish to reverse this dispensation of 
the Divine Providence. The great objects of life were accomplished; 
the drama was ready to be closed; it has closed; our patriots have 
fallen; but so fallen, at such age, with such coincidence, on such a day, 
that we cannot rationally lament that that end has come, which we 
knew could not be long deferred. Neither of these great men, fellow- 
citizens, could have died at any time without leaving an immense void 
in our American society. They have been so intimately, and for so 
long a time, blended with the history of the country, and especially so 
united, in our thoughts and recollections, with the events of the revo 
lution, that the death of either would have touched the strings of 
public sympathy. We should have felt that one great link, connecting 
us with former times, was broken; that we had lost something more, 
as it were, of the presence of the revolution itself, and of the act of 
independence, and were driven on by another great remove from the 
days of our country s early distinction to meet posterity and to mix 
with the future. Like the mariner, whom the ocean and the winds 
carry along till he sees the stars which have directed his course, and 
lighted his pathless way, descend one by one beneath the rising 
horizon; we should have felt that the stream of time had borne us 
onward, till another great luminary, whose light had cheered us, and 
whose guidance we had followed, had sunk away from our sight. 

But the concurrence of their death, on the anniversary of indepen- 
A. P. 6. 


dence, has naturally awakened stronger emotions. Both had been 
presidents; both had lived to great age; both were early patriots; and 
both were distinguished and even honored by their immediate agency 
in the act of independence. It cannot but seem striking and extra 
ordinary that these two should live to see the fiftieth year from the 
date of that act; that they should complete that year; and that then, 
on the day which had fast linked forever their own fame with their 
country s glory, the heavens should open to receive them both at 
once. As their lives themselves were the gifts of Providence, who is 
not willing to recognize in their happy termination, as well as in their 
long continuance, proofs that our country and its benefactors are 
objects of His care? 

Adams and Jefferson, I have said, are no more. As human beings, 
indeed, they are no more. They are no more, as in 1776, bold and 
fearless advocates of independence: no more, as on subsequent 
periods, the head of the government; no more, as we have recently 
seen them, aged and venerable objects of admiration and regard. 
They are no more. They are dead. But how little is there of the 
great and good which can die! To their country they yet live, and 
live forever. They live in all that perpetuates the remembrance of 
men on earth; in the recorded proofs of their own great actions, in 
the offspring of their intellect, in the deep engraved lines of public 
gratitude, and in the respect and homage of mankind. They live in 
their example; and they live, emphatically, and will live in the influence 
which their lives and efforts, their principles and opinions, now exer 
cise, and will continue to exercise, on the affairs of men, not only in 
their own country but throughout the civilized world. A superior and 
commanding human intellect, a truly great man, when Heaven vouch 
safes so rare a gift, is not a temporary flame, burning bright for a 
while, and then expiring, giving place to returning darkness. It is 
rather a spark of fervent heat, as well as radiant light, with power to 
enkindle the common mass of human mind; so that when it glimmers, 
in its own decay, and finally goes out in death, no night follows, but 
it leaves the world all light, all on fire, from the potent contact of its 
o\vn spirit. Bacon died; but the human understanding, roused by the 
touch of his miraculous wand, to a perception of the true philosophy, 
and the just mode of inquiring after truth, has kept on its course, suc 
cessfully and gloriously. Newton died; yet the courses of the spheres 
are still known, and they yet move on in the orbits which he saw, and 
described for them, in the infinity of space. 

No two men now live, fellow-citizens, perhaps it may be doubted, 
whether any two men have ever lived in one age, who, more than 
those we now commemorate, have impressed their own sentiments, in 
regard to politics and government, on mankind, infused their own 
opinions more deeply into the opinions of others, or given a more 
lasting direction to the current of human thought. Their work doth not 


perish with them. The tree which they assisted to plant, will flourish, 
although they water it and protect it no longer; for it has struck its 
roots deep; it has sent them to the very centre; no storm, not of force 
to burst the orb, can overturn it; its branches spread wide; they stretch 
their protecting arms broader and broader, and its top is destined to 
reach the heavens. We are not deceived. There is no delusion here. 
No age will come, in which the American revolution will appear less 
than it is, one of the greatest events in human history. No age will 
come, in which it will cease to be seen and felt, on either continent, 
that a mighty step, a great advance, not only in American affairs, but in 
human affairs, was made on the fourth of July, 1776. And no age will 
come, we trust, so ignorant or so unjust, as not to see and acknowl 
edge the efficient agency of these we now honor, in producing that 
momentous event. 

We are not assembled, therefore, fellow-citizens, as men over 
whelmed with calamity by the sudden disruption of the ties of friend 
ship or affec ion, or as in despair for the republic, by the untimely 
blighting of its hopes. Death has not surprised us by an unseasonable 
blow. We have, indeed, seen the tomb close, but it has closed only 
over mature years, over long-protracted public service, over the weak 
ness of age, and over life itself only when the ends of living had been 
fulfilled. These suns, as they rose slowly, and steadily," amidst clouds 
and storms, in their ascendant, so they have not rushed from their 
meridian to sink suddenly in the west. Like the mildness, the seren 
ity, the continuing benignity of a summer s day, they have gone down 
with slow descending, grateful, long-lingering light, and now that they 
are beyond the visible margin of the world, good omens cheer us from 
" the bright track of their fiery car." 

There were many points of similarity in the lives and fortunes of 
these great men. They belonged to the same profession, and had 
pursued its studies and its practice, for unequal lengths of time indeed, 
but with diligence and effect. Both were learned and able lawyers. 
They were natives and inhabitants, respectively, of those two of the 
colonies, which, at the revolution, were the largest and most powerful, 
and which naturally had a lead in the political affairs of the times. 
When the colonies became, in some degree, united, by the asserrV:in<7 
of a general congress, they were brought to act together, in its delib 
erations, not indeed at the same time, but both at early periods. Each 
had already manifested his attachment to the cause of the country, as 
well as his ability to maintain it, by printed addresses, public speeches. 
extensive correspondence, and whatever other mode could be adopted, 
for the purpose of exposing the encroachments of the British Parlia 
ment and animating the people to a manly resistance. Both were not 
only decided, but early friends of independence. While others yet 
doubted, they were resolved; while others hesitated, they pressed 
forward. They were both members of the committee for preparing 


the Declaration of Independence, and they constituted the sub-com 
mittee, appointed by the other members to make the draught. They 
left their seats in Congress, being called to other public employments, 
at periods not remote from each other, although one of them returned 
to it, afterwards, for a short time. Neither of them was of the assem 
bly of great men which formed the present constitution, and neither 
was at any time member of Congress under its provisions. Both have 
been public ministers abroad, both vice-presidents, and both presi 
dents. These coincidences are now singularly crowned and completed. 
They have died together; and they died on the anniversary of liberty. 

When many of us were last in this place, fellow-citizens, it Avas on 
the day of that anniversary. We were met to enjoy the festivities 
belonging to the occasion, and to manifest our grateful homage to our 
political fathers. 

We did not, we could not here, forget our venerable neighbor of 
Quincy. We knew that we were standing, at a time of high and 
palmy prosperity, where he had stood in the hour of utmost peril; 
that we saw nothing but liberty and security, where he had met the 
frown of power; that we were enjoying every thing, where he had 
hazarded every thing; and just and sincere plaudits rose to his name, 
from the crowds which filled this area, and hung over these galleries. 
He whose grateful duty it was to speak to us, on that day, of the vir 
tues of our fathers, had, indeed, admonished us that time and years 
were about to level his venerable frame with the dust. But he bade 
us hope, that the "sound of a nation s joy, rushing from our cities, 
ringing from our valleys, echoing from our hills, might yet break the 
silence of his aged ear; that the rising blessings of grateful millions 
might yet visit, with glad light, his decaying vision." Alas ! that 
vision was then closing forever. Alas ! the silence which was then 
settling on that aged ear, was an everlasting silence ! For, lo ! in 
the very moment of our festivities, his freed spirit ascended to God 
who gave it ! Human aid and human solace terminate at the grave; 
or we would gladly have borne him upward, on a nation s outspread 
hands; we would have accompanied him, and with the blessings of 
millions, and the prayers of millions, commended him to the divine 

"While still indulging our thoughts on the coincidence of the death 
of this venerable man with the anniversary of independence, we learn 
that Jefferson, too, has fallen; and that these aged patriots, tlie^ic 
illustrious fellow-laborers, had left our world together. May not such 
events raise the suggestion that they are not undesigned, and the. - 
Heaven does so order things as sometimes to attract strongly the 
attention, and excite the thoughts of men? The occurrence has 
added new interest to our anniversary, and will be remembered in all 
time to come. 

The occasion, fellow-citizens, requires some account of the lives and 


services of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. This duty must neces 
sarily be performed with great brevity; and, in the discharge of it, I 
shall be obliged to confine myself, principally, to those parts of their 
history and character which belonged to them as public men. 

John Adams was born at Quincy, then part of the ancient town of 
Hraintree, on the igth day of October (old style), 1735. He was a 
descendant of the Puritans, his ancestors having early emigrated from 
England and settled in Massachusetts. Discovering early a strong 
love of reading and of knowledge, together with marks of great strength 
and activity of mind, proper care was taken by his worthy father, to 
provide for his education. He pursued his youthful studies in Brain- 
tree, under Mr. Marsh, a teacher whose fortune it was that Josiah 
Quincy, Jr. as well as the subject of these remarks, should receive 
from him his instruction in the rudiments of classical literature. Hav 
ing been admitted, in 1751, a member of Harvard college, Mr. Adams 
was graduated, in course, in 1755; and on the catalogue of that insti 
tution, his name, at the time of his death, was second among the 
living alumni, being preceded only by that of the venerable Holyoke. 
With what degree of reputation he left the university, is not now pre 
cisely known. We know only that he was distinguished, in a class 
which numbered Locke and Hemenway among its members. Choosing 
the law for his profession, he commenced and prosecuted his studies 
at Worcester, under the direction of Samuel Putnam, a gentleman 
whom he has himself described as an acute man, an able and learned 
lawyer, and as in large professional practice at that time. In 1758, he 
was admitted to the bar, and commenced business in Braintree. He 
is understood to have made his first considerable effort, or to have 
obtained his first signal success, at Plymouth, on one of those occa 
sions which furnish the earliest opportunity for distinction to many 
young men of the profession, a jury trial, and a criminal cause. His 
business naturally grew with his reputation, and his residence in the 
vicinity afforded the opportunity, as his growing eminence gave the 
power, of entering on the larger field of practice which the capital pre 
sented. In 1766, he removed his residence to Boston, still continuing 
his attendance on the neighboring circuits, and not unfrequently called 
to remote parts of the province. In 1770, his professional firmness 
was brought to a test of some severity, on the application of the 
British officers and soldiers to undertake their defence, on the trial of 
the indictments found against them on account of the transactions of 
the memorable fifth of March. He seems to have thought, on this 
occasion, thai a man can no more abandon the proper duties of his 
profession, than he can abandon other duties. The event proved, 
that as he judged well for his own reputation, so he judged well, also. 
for the interest and permanent fame of his country. The result of 
that trial proved, that notwithstanding the high degree of excitement 
then existing, in consequence ot the measures of the British govern- 


mcnt, a jury of Massachusetts would not deprive the most reckless 
enemies, even the officers of that standing army, quartered among 
them, which they so perfectly abhorred, of any part of that protection 
which the law, in its mildest and most indulgent interpretation, afforded 
to persons accused of crimes. 

Without pursuing Mr. Adams s professional course further, suffice 
it to say, that on the first establishment of the judicial tribunals under 
the authority of the state, in 1776, he received an offer of the high and 
responsible station of chief justice of the Supreme Court. But he was 
destined for another and a different career. From early life the bent 
of his mind was towards politics; a propensity, which the state of the 
times, if it did not create, doubtless very much strengthened. Public 
subjects must have occupied the thoughts and filled up the conversa 
tion in the circles in which he then moved; and the interesting ques 
tions, at that time just arising, could not but seize on a mind, like his, 
ardent, sanguine and patriotic. The letter, fortunately preserved, 
written by him at Worcester so early as the I2th of October, 1755, is 
a proof of very comprehensive views, and uncommon depth of reflec 
tion, in a young man not yet quite twenty. In this letter he predicted 
the transfer of power, and the establishment of a new seat of empire 
in America: he predicted, also, the increase of population in the col 
onies; and anticipated their naval distinction, and foretold that all 
Europe, combined, could not subdue them. All this is said, not on a 
public occasion, or for effect, but in the style of sober and friendly 
correspondence, as the result of his own thoughts. "I sometimes 
retire," said he, at the close of the letter, " and, laying things together, 
form some reflections, pleasing to myself. The produce of one of 
these reveries you have read above." This prognostication, so early 
in his own life, so early in the history of the country, of independence, 
of vast increase of numbers, of naval force, of such augmented power 
as might defy all Europe, is remarkable. It is more remarkable, that 
its author should live to see fulfilled to the letter, what could have 
seemed to others, at the time, but the extravagance of youthful fancy. 
His earliest political feelings were thus strongly American; and from 
this ardent attachment to his native soil he never departed. 

While still living at Quincy, at the age of twenty-four, Mr. Adams 
was present, in this town, on the argument before the Supreme Court, 
respecting writs of assistance, and heard the celebrated and patriotic 
speech of James Otis. Unquestionably, that was a masterly perform 
ance. No flighty declamation about liberty, no superficial discussion 
of popular topics, it was a learned, penetrating, convincing, constitu 
tional argument, expressed in a strain of high and resolute patriotism. 
He grasped the question, then pending between England and her 
colonies, with the strength of a lion; and if he sometimes sported, it 
was only because the lion himself is sometimes playful. Its success 
appears to have been as great as his merits, and its impression was 
widely felt. Mr. Adams himself seems never to have lost the feeling 

D.IXIEL irEnsTER. 157 

it produced, and to have entertained constantly the fullest conviction 
of its important effects. "I do say," he observes, " in the most 
solemn manner, that Mr. Otis s oration against writs of assistance 
breathed into this nation the breath of life." 

In 1765, Mr. Adams laid before the public what I suppose to be his 
first printed performance, except essays for the periodical press, a 
Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law. The object of this work 
was to show that our New England ancestors, in consenting to exile 
themselves from their native land, were actuated, mainly, by the de 
sire of delivering themselves from the power of the hierarchy, and 
from the monarchical and aristocratical political systems of the other 
continent; and to make this truth bear with effect on the politics of 
the times. Its tone is uncommonly bold and animated, for that 
period. He calls on the people not only to defend, but to study and 
understand their rights and privileges; urges earnestly the necessity 
of diffusing general knowledge; invokes the clergy and the bar, the 
colleges and academies, and all others who have the ability and the 
means, to expose the insidious designs of arbitrary power, to resist 
its approaches, and to be persuaded that there is a settled design on 
foot to enslave all America. "Be it remembered," says the author, 
" that liberty must, at all hazards, be supported. We have a right to 
it, derived from our Maker. But if we had not, our fathers have 
earned it, and bought it for us, at the expense of their ease, their es 
tate, their pleasure, and their blood. And liberty cannot be preserved 
without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, 
from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their greal Creator, 
who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a do* 
sir , to know; but besides this, they have a right, an undisputublc, 
unalienable, indefeasible right to that most dreaded and envied kind 
of knowledge, I mean of the character and conduct of their rulers. 
Rulers are no more than attorneys, agents, and trustees, of the people; 
and if the cause, the interest, and trust, is insidiously betrayed, 01 
wantonly trifled away, the people have a right to revoke the authority 
that they themselves have deputed, and to constitute other and bettef 
agents, attorneys and trustees." 

The citizens of this town conferred on Mr. Adams his first political 
distinction, and clothed him with his first political trust, by electing 
him one of their representatives, in 1770. Before this time he had 
become extensively known throughout the province, as well by the 
part he had acted in relation to public affairs, as by the exercise of his 
professional ability. He was among those who took the deepest in 
terest in the controversy with England, and whether in or out of the 
legislature, his time and talents were alike devoted to the cause. In 
the years 1773 and 1774, he was chosen a counsellor, by the members 
of the General Court, but rejected by governor Hutchinson, in the 
former of those years, an i by governor Gage in the latter. 

The time was now at hand, however, when the affairs of the colo- 


nies urgently demanded united councils. An open rupture with the 
parent state appeared inevitable, and it was but the dictate of prudence, 
that those who were united by a common interest and a common dan 
ger, should protect that interest, and guard against that danger, by 
united efforts. A general congress of delegates from all the colonies 
having been proposed and agreed to, the House of Representatives, 
on the i yth of June, 1774, elected James Bowdoin, Thomas Gushing, 
Samuel Adams, John Adams, and Robert Treat Paine, delegates from 
Massachusetts. This appointment was made at Salem, where the 
general court had been convened by governor Gage, in the last hour 
of the existence of a House of Representatives under the provincial 
charter. While engaged in this important business, the governor, 
having been informed of what was passing, sent his secretary with a 
message dissolving the general court. The secretary, finding the 
door locked, directed the messenger to go in and inform the speaker 
that the secretary was at the door with a message from the governor. 
The messenger returned, and informed the secretary that the orders 
of the house were that the doors should be kept fast; whereupon the 
secretary soon after read a proclamation, dissolving the general court 
upon the stairs. Thus terminated, forever, the actual exercise of the 
political power of England in or over Massachusetts. The four last- 
named delegates accepted their appointments, and took their seats 
in Congress, the first day of its meeting, September 5, 1774, in 

The proceedings of the first Congress are well known, and have 
been universally admired. It is in vain that we would look for su 
perior proofs of wisdom, talent and patriotism. Lord Chatham said, 
that, for himself he must declare, that he had studied and admired the 
free states of antiquity, the master states of the world, but that, for 
solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, no 
body of men could stand in preference to this Congress. It is hardly 
inferior praise to say, that no production of that great man himself 
can be pronounced superior to several of the papers published as the 
proceedings of this most able, most firm, most patriotic assembly. 
There is, indeed, nothing superior to them in the range of political 
disquisition. They not only embrace, illustrate, and enforce every 
thing which political philosophy, the love of liberty, and the spirit of 
free inquiry, had antecedently produced, but they add new and strik 
ing views of their own, and apply the whole, with irresistible force, in 
support of the cause which had drawn them together. 

Mr. Adams was a constant attendant on the deliberations of this 
body, and bore an active part in its important measures. He was of 
the committee to state the rights of the colonies, and of that also which 
reported the address to the king. 

As it was in the continental congress, fellow-citizens, that those 
whose deaths have given rise to this occasion, were first brought to- 


gether, and called on to unite their industry and their ability in the 
service of the country, let us now turn to the other of these distin 
guished men, and take a brief notice of his life, up to the period when 
h? appeared within the walls of congress. 

Thomas Jefferson, descended from ancestors who had been settled 
in Virginia for some generations, was born near the spot on which he 
died, in the county of Albemarle, on the 2d of April (old style), 1743. 
His youthful studies were pursued in the neighborhood of his father s 
residence, until he was removed to the college of William and Mary, 
the highest honors of which he in due time received. Having left the 
college with reputation, he applied himself to the study of the law, 
under the tuition of George Wythe, one of the highest judicial names 
of which that state can boast. At an early age he was elected a mem 
ber of the legislature, in which he had no sooner appeared than he 
distinguishd himself by knowledge, capacity, and promptitude. 

Mr. Jefferson appears to have been imbued with an early love of 
letters and science, and to have cherished a strong disposition to pur 
sue these objects. To the physical sciences, especially, and to ancient 
classic literature, he is understood to have had a warm attach 
ment, and never entirely to have lost sight of them, in the midst 
of the busiest occupations. But the times were times for action, 
rather than for contemplation. The country was to be defended, 
and to be saved, before it could be enjoyed. Philosophic leisure 
and literary pursuits, and even the objects of professional at 
tention, were all necessarily postponed to the urgent calls of the 
public service. The exigency of the country made the same demand 
on Mr. Jefferson that it made on others who had the ability and the 
disposition to serve it; and he obeyed the call thinking and feeling, 
in this respect, with the great Roman orator; Quis enim est tarn cupi- 
dus in perspicienda cognoscendaque reruni natura, nt, si ei tmctanti ccn- 
teniplantique tes cognitione dignissimas subito sit allatuni periculum 
discriincnque patritc, cui subvenire opitu la riqtte possif, non ilia omnia re- 
linquat atque abjiciat^ etiam si dinumerare se stellas^ ant mctiri mundi 
magnitudinem posse arbitretur? 

Entering, with all his heart, into the cause of liberty, his ability, 
patriotism, and power with the pen, naturally drew upon him a large 
participation in the most important concerns. Wherever he was, 
there was found a soul devoted to the cause, power to defend and 
maintain it, and willingness to incur all its hazards. In 1774, he pub 
lished a Summary View of the Rights of British America, a valuable 
production among those intended to show the dangers which threat 
ened the liberties of the country, and to encourage the people in their 
defence. In June, 1775, he was elected a member of the continental 
congress, as successor to Peyton Randolph, who had retired on ac 
count of ill health, and took his eat in that body on the 2ist of the 
same month. 


And now, fellow-citizens, without pursuing the biography of these 
illustrious men further, for the present, let us turn our attention to the 
most prominent act of their lives, their participation in the Declara 
tion of Independence. 

Preparatory to the introduction of that important measure, a com 
mittee, at the head of which was Mr. Adams, had reported a resolution, 
which Congress adopted the loth of May, recommending, in sub 
stance, to all the colonies which had not already established govern 
ments suited to the exigencies of their affairs, to adopt such government, 
as would, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best 
conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, 
and America in general. 

This significant vote was soon followed by the direct proposition, 
which Richard Henry Lee had the honor to submit to Congress, by 
resolution, on the yth day of June. The published journal does not 
expressly state it, but there is no doubt, I suppose, that this resolution 
was in the same Avords, when originally submitted by Mr. Lee, as 
when finally passed. Having been discussed, on Saturday the 8th, 
and Monday the loth of June, this resolution was on the last-men 
tioned day postponed, for further consideration, to the 1st day of 
July; and, at the same time, it was voted, that a committee be ap 
pointed to prepare a declaration, to the effect of the resolution. This 
committee was elected by ballot, on the following day, and consisted 
of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sher 
man, and Robert R. Livingston. 

It is usual, when committees are elected by ballot, that their mem 
bers are arranged in order, according to the number of votes which 
each has received; Mr. Jefferson, therefore, had received the highest, 
and Mr. Adams the next highest number of votes. The difference is 
said to have been but of a single vote. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams, 
standing thus at the head of the committee, were requested by the 
other members to act as a sub-committee, to prepare the draught; and 
Mr. Jefferson drew up the paper. The original draught, as brought 
by him from his study, and submitted to the other members of the 
committee, with interlineations in the hand-writing of Dr. Franklin, 
and others in that of Mr. Adams, was in Mr. Jefferson s possession 
at the time of his death. The merit of this paper is Mr. Jefferson s. 
Some changes were made in it, on the suggestion of other members 
of the committee, and others by Congress while it was under discus 
sion; but none of them altered the tone, the frame, the arrangement, 
or the general character of the instrument. As a composition, the 
declaration is Mr. Jefferson s. It is the production of his mind, and 
the high honor of it belongs to him, clearly and absolutely. 

It has sometimes been said, as if it were a derogation from the 
merits of this paper, that it contains nothing new; that it only states 
grounds of proceeding, and presses topics of argument, which had 


often been stated and pressed before. But it was not the object of 
the declaration to produce anything new. It was not to invent rea 
sons for independence, but to state those which governed the Con 
gress. For great and sufficient causes, it was proposed to declare in 
dependence; and the proper business of the paper to be drawn, was 
to set forth those causes, and justify the authors of the measure, in 
any event of fortune, to the country, and to posterity. The cause of 
American independence, moreover, was now to be presented to the 
world, in such a manner, if it might so be, as to engage its sympathy, 
to command its respect, to attract its admiration; and in an assembly 
of most able and distinguished men, Thomas Jefferson had the high 
honor of being the selected advocate of this cause. To say that he 
performed his great work well, would be doing him injustice. To say 
that he did excellently well, admirably well, would be inadequate and 
halting praise. Let us rather say, that he so discharged the duty as 
signed him, that all Americans may well rejoice that the work of 
drawing the title-deed of their liberties devolved on his hands. 

With all its merits, there are those who have thought that there was 
one thing in the declaration to be regretted; and that is, the asperity 
and apparent anger with which it speaks of the person of the king; 
the industrious ability with which it accumulates and charges upon 
him all the injuries which the colonies had suffered from the mother 
country. Possibly some degree of injustice, now or hereafter, at 
home or abroad, may be done to the character of Mr. Jefferson, if 
this part of the declaration be not placed in its proper light. Anger 
or resentment, certainly, much less personal reproach and invective, 
could not properly find place in a composition of such high dignity, 
and of such lofty and permanent character. 

A single reflection on the original ground of dispute, between Eng 
land and the colonies, is sufficient to remove any unfavorable impres 
sion, in this respect. 

The inhabitants of all the colonies, while colonies, admitted them 
selves bound by their allegiance to the king; but they disclaimed, 
altogether, the authority of Parliament; holding themselves, in this 
respect, to resemble the condition of Scotland and Ireland, before the 
respective unions of those kingdoms with England, when they ac 
knowledged allegiance to the same king, but each had its separate 
legislature. The tie, therefore, which our revolution was to break, 
did not subsist between us and the British Parliament, or between us 
and the British government in the aggregate, but directly between us 
and the king himself. The colonies had never admitted themselves 
subject to Parliament. That was precisely the point of the original 
controversy. They had uniformly denied that Parliament had au 
thority to make laws for them. There was, therefore, no subjection 
to Parliament to be thrown off. But allegiance to the king did exist, 
and had been uniformly acknowledged; and down to 1775, the most 


solemn assurances had been given that it was not intended to break 
that allegiance, or to throw it off. Therefore, as the direct object and 
only effect of the declaration, according to the principles on which the 
controversy had been maintained, on our part, was to sever the tie of 
allegiance which bound us to the king, it was properly and necessarily 
founded on acts of the Crown itself, as its justifying causes. Parlia 
ment is not so much as mentioned in the whole instrument. When 
odious and oppressive acts are referred to, it is done by charging the 
king with confederating with others " in pretended acts of legislation;" 
the object being, constantly, to hold the king himself directly responsi 
ble for those measures which were the grounds of separation. Even 
the precedent of the English revolution was not overlooked, and in 
this case, as well as in that, occasion was found to say that the king 
had abdicated the government. Consistency with the principles upon 
which resistance began, and with all the previous state papers issued 
by Congress, required that the declaration should be bottomed on the 
misgovernment of the king; and therefore it was properly framed 
with that aim and to that end. The king was known, indeed, to have 
acted, as in other cases, by his ministers, and with his parliament; 
but as our ancestors had never admitted themselves subject either to 
ministers or to Parliament, there were no reasons to be given for now 
refusing obedience to their authority. This clear and obvious necessity 
of founding the declaration on the misconduct of the king himself, 
gives to that instrument its personal application, and its character of 
direct and pointed accusation. 

The declaration having been reported to Congress by the com 
mittee, the resolution itself was taken up and debated on the first day 
of July, and again on the second, on which last day it was agreed to 
and adopted in these words: 

" Resolved, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be 
free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance 
to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them 
and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved." 

Having thus passed the main resolution, Congress proceeded to 
consider the reported draught of the declaration. It was discussed on 
the second, and third, and fourth days of the month, in Committee of 
the Whole; and on the last of those days, being reported from that 
committee, it received the final approbation and sanction of Congress. 
It was ordered, at the same time, that copies be sent to the several 
states, and that it be proclaimed at the head of the army. The 
declaration, thus published, did not bear the names of the members, 
for as yet it had not been signed by them. It was authenticated, like 
other papers of the Congress, by the signatures of the president and 
secretary. On the iQth of July, as appears by the secret journal, 
Congress " resolved that the dccaration, passed on the fourth, be 
fairly engrossed on parchment, with the title and style of The unaai- 


mous declaration of the Thirteen United States of America, and that the 
same, when engrossed, be signed by every member of Congress;" and, 
on the second day of August following, " the declaration, being en 
grossed and compared at the table, was signed by the members." So 
that it happens, fellow-citizens, that we pay these honors to their 
memory on the anniversary of that day on which these great men 
actually signed their names to the declaration. The declaration was 
ihus made that is, it passed, and was adopted as an act of Con 
gress on the fourth of July; it was then signed and certified by 
the president and secretary, like other acts. The fourth of July, 
therefore, is the anniversary of the declaration; but the signatures of 
the members present were made to it, it being then engrossed on parch 
ment, on the second day of August. Absent members afterwards 
signed, as they came in; and indeed it bears the names of some who 
were not chosen members of Congress until after the fourth of July. 
The interest belonging to the subject will be sufficient, I hope, to 
justify these details. 

The Congress of the Revolution, fellow-citizens, sat with closed 
doors, and no report of its debates was ever taken. The discussion, 
therefore, which accompanied this great measure, has never been pre 
served, except in memory and by tradition. But it is, I believe, doing 
no injustice to others to say, that the general opinion was, and uni 
formly has been, that in debate, on the side of independence, John 
Adams had no equal. The great author of the declaration himself 
has expressed that opinion uniformly and strongly. "John Adams," 
said he, in the hearing of him who has now the honor to address you, 
" John Adams was our colossus on the floor. Not graceful, not 
eloquent, not always fluent, in his public addresses, he yet came out 
with a power, both of thought and of expression, which moved us from 
our seats." 

For the part which he was here to perform, Mr. Adams was doubt 
less eminently fitted. He possessed a bold spirit, which disregarded 
danger, and a sanguine reliance on the goodness of the cause, and the 
virtues of the people, which led him to overlook all obstacles. His 
character, too, had been formed in troubled times. He had been 
rocked in the early storms of the controversy, and had acquired a 
decision and a hardihood proportioned to the severity of the discipline 
which he had undergone. 

He not only loved the American cause devoutly, but had studied 
and understood it. It was all familiar to him. He had tried his 
powers, on the questions which it involved, often, and in various ways; 
and had brought to their consideration whatever of argument or illus 
tration the history of his own country, the history of England, or the 
stores of ancient or of legal learning could furnish. Every grievance 
enumerated in the long catalogue of the declaration had been the sub 
ject of his discussion, and the object of his remonstrance and reproba- 


tion. From 1760, the colonies, the rights of the colonies, the liberties 
of the colonies, and the wrongs inflicted on the colonies, had engaged 
his constant attention; and it has surprised those, who have had the 
opportunity of observing, with what full remembrance, and with what 
prompt recollection, he could refer, in his extreme old age, to every 
act of Parliament affecting the colonies, distinguishing and stating their 
respective titles, sections and provisions and to all the colonial 
memorials, remonstrances and petitions, with whatever else belonged 
to the intimate and exact history of the times from that year 
to 1775. It was, in his own judgment, between these years, that 
the American people came to a full understanding and thorough 
knowledge of their rights, and to a fixed resolution of maintaining them; 
and bearing himself an active part in all important transactions the 
controversy with England being then, in effect, the business of his life 
facts, dates, and particulars, made an impression which was never 
effaced. He was prepared, therefore, by education and discipline, as 
well as by natural talent and natural temperament, for the part which 
he was now to act. 

The eloquence of Mr. Adams resembled his general character, and 
formed, indeed, a part of it. It was bold, manly and energetic; anil 
such the crisis required. When public bodies are to be addressed on 
momentous occasions, when great interests are at stake and strong 
passions excited, nothing is valuable, in speech, farther than it is con 
nected with high intellectual and moral endowments. Clearness, 
force, and earnestness, are the qualities which produce conviction. 
True eloquence, indeed, does not consist in speech. It cannot be 
brought from far. Labor and learning may toil for it; but they will 
toil in vain. Words and phrases may be marshalled in every way; 
but they cannot compass it. It must exist in the man, in the subject, 
and in the occasion. Affected passion, intense expression, the pomp 
of declamation, all may aspire after it they cannot reach it It 
comes, if it come at all, like the outbreaking of a fountain from the 
earth, or the bursting forth of volcanic fires, with spontaneous, origi 
nal, native force. The graces taught in the schools, the costly orna 
ments, and studied contrivances of speech, shock and disgust men, 
when their own lives, and the fate of their wives, their children, and 
their country, hang on the decision of the hour. Then, words have 
lost their power, rhetoric is vain, and all elaborate oratory contempti- 
l)le. Even genius itself then feels rebuked and subdued, as in the pres 
ence of higher qualities. Then, patriotism is eloquent; then self- 
devotion is eloquent. The clear conception, outrunning the deduc 
tions of logic, the high purpose, the firm resolve, the dauntless 
spirit, speaking on the tongue, beaming from the eye, informing every 
feature, and urging the whole man onward, right onward, to his ob 
ject, this, this is eloquence; or, rather, it is something greater and 
higher than all eloquence, it is action, noble, sublime, godlike action 



In July, 1776, the controversy had passed the stage of argument. 
An appeal had been made to force, and opposing armies were in the 
field. Congress then, was to decide whether the tie which had so long 
bound us to the parent state, was to be severed at once, and severed 
forever. All the colonies had signified their resolution to abide by 
this decision, and the people looked for it with the most intense 
anxiety. And surely, fellow-citizens, never, never were men called 
to a more important political deliberation. If we contemplate it from 
the point where they then stood, no question could be more full of in 
terest; if we look at it now, and judge of its importance by its effects, 
it appears in still greater magnitude. 

Let us, then, bring before us the assembly, which was about to 
decide a question thus big with the fate of empire. Let us open their 
doors, and look in upon their deliberations. Let us survey the 
anxious and care-worn countenances let us hear the firm-toned voices 
of this band of patriots. 

Hancock presides over this solemn sitting; and one of those not yet 
prepared to pronounce for absolute independence, is on the floor, and 
is urging his reasons for dissenting from the declaration. 

" Let us pause! This step, once taken, cannot be retraced. This 
resolution, once passed, will cut off all. hope of reconciliation. If 
success attend the arms of England, we shall then be no longer colonies, 
with charters, and with privileges. These will all be forfeited by this 
act; and we shall be in the condition of other conquered people at the 
mercy of the conquerors. For ourselves, we may be ready to run the 
hazard; but are we ready to carry the country to that length? Is 
success so probable as to justify it? Where is the military, where the 
naval, power, by which we are to resist the whole strength of the arm 
of England ? for she will exert that strength to the utmost. Can we 
rely on the constancy and perseverance of the people? or will they 
not act as the people of other countries have acted, and, wearied with a 
long war, submit in the end, to a worse oppression? While we stand 
on our old ground, and insist on redress of grievances, we know we are 
right, and are not answerable for consequences. Nothing, then, can 
be imputable to us. But if we now change our object, carry our pre 
tensions farther, and set up for absolute independence, we shall lose 
the sympathy of mankind. We shall no longer be defending what we 
possess, but struggling for something which we never did possess, and 
which we have solemnly and uniformly disclaimed all intention of pur 
suing, from the very outset of the troubles. Abandoning thus our old 
ground, of resistance only to arbitrary acts of oppression, the nations 
will believe the whole to have been mere pretence, and they will look 
on us, not as injured, but as ambitious subjects. I shudder before this 
responsibility. It will be on us, if, relinquishing the ground we have 
stood on so long, and stood on so safely, we now proclaim independence, 
and carry on the war for that object, while these cities burn, these 

1 66 A Ml .Rl CA N PA 1 RIO 7 7SM. 

pleasant fields whiten and bleach witli tlu: bones of their owners, and 
these streams run blood. It will be upon us, it. will be upon us, if 
falling to maintain this unseasonable and ill-judged declaration, a 
Sterner despotism, maintained !>y military power, shall be established 
over our posterity, when we ourselves, given up by an exhausted, a 
harassed, a misled people, shall have expiated our rashness and atoned 
for our presumption on the scaffold." 

It was for Mr. Adams to reply to arguments like these. We know 
his opinions, and we know his character. He would commence with 
his accustomed directness and earnestn; ss. 

"Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish, I give my hand and 
my heart to this vote. It is true, indeed, that in the beginning we 
aimed not at independence. But there s a divinity which shapes our 
ends. The injustice of England has driven us to arms; and, blinded 
to her own interest, for our good, she LJS obstinately persisted, till 
independence is now within our grasp. \Ve have but to reach forth 
to it, and it is ours. Why, then, should we defer the declaration ? 
Is any man so weak as now to hope for a reconciliation with England, 
which shall leave either safety to the country and its liberties, or 
safety to his own life and his own honor? Are not you, sir, who sit 
in that chair, is not he, our venerable colleague near you, are you 
not both already the proscribed and predestined objects of punish 
ment and of vengeance ? Cut off from all hope of royal clemency ; what 
are you, what can you be, while the power of England remains, but 
outlaws? If we postpone independence, do we mean to carry on, or 
to give up, the war? Do we mean to submit to the measures of Par 
liament, Boston port-bill and all ? Do we mean to submit, and con 
sent that we ourselves shall be ground to powder, and our country 
and its rights trodden down in the dust? I know we do riot mean to 
submit. We never shall submit. Do we intend to violate that most 
solemn obligation ever entered into by men that plighting, before 
God, of our sacred honor to Washington, when, putting him forth to 
incur the dangers of war, as well as the political hazards of the times, 
we promised to adhere to him, in every extremity, with our fortunes 
and our lives? I know there is not a man here, who would not rather 
see a general conflagration sweep over the land, or an earthquake 
sink it, than one jot or tittle of that plighted faith fall to the ground. 
For myself, having, twelve months ago, in this place, moved you, 
that George Washington be appointed commander of the forces, 
raised or to be raised, for defence of American liberty, may my right 
hand forget her cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my 
mouth, if I hesitate or waver in the support I give him. The war, 
then, must go on. We must fight it through. And, if the war must 
go on, why put off longer the declaration of independence? That 
measure will strengthen us. It will give us character abroad. The 
nations will then treat with as, which they never can do while we 


acknowledge ourselves subjects in arms against our sovereign. Nay, 
I maintain that England herself will sooner treat for peace with us on 
the footing of independence, than consent, by repealing her acts, to 
acknowledge that her whole conduct towards us has been a course of 
injustice and oppression. Her pride will be less wounded, by sub 
mitting to that course of things, which now predestinates our inde 
pendence, than by yielding the points in controversy to her rebellious 
subjects. The former, she would regard as the result of fortune; the 
latter, she would feel as her own deep disgrace. Why, then why, 
then, sir, do we not, as soon as possible, change this from a civil to a 
national war? And, since we must fight it through, why not put 
ourselves in a state to enjoy all the benefits of victory, if we gain the 
victory ? 

" If we fail, it can be no worse for us. But we shall not fail. The 
cause will raise up armies: the cause will create navies. The people 
the people, if we are true to them, will carry us, and will carry 
themselves, gloriously through this struggle. I care not how fickle 
other people have been found. I know the people of these colonies, 
and I know that resistance to British aggression is deep and settled 
in their hearts and cannot be eradicated. Every colony, indeed, has 
expressed its willingness to follow, if we but take the lead. Sir, the 
declaration will inspire the people with increased courage. Instead of 
a long and bloody war for restoration of privileges, for redress of 
grievances, for chartered immunities, held under a British king, set 
before them the glorious object of entire independence, and it will 
breathe into them anew the breath of life. Read this declaration at 
the head of the army; every sword will be drawn from its scabbard, 
and the solemn vow uttered, to maintain it, or to perish on the bed of 
honor. Publish it from the pulpit; religion will approve it, and the 
love of religious liberty will cling round it, resolved to stand with it, 
or fall with it. Send it to the public halls; proclaim it there; let them 
hear it, who heard the first roar of the enemy s cannon; let them see 
it, who saw their brothers and their sons fall on the field of Bunker 
Hill, and in the streets of Lexington and Concord, and the very walls 
will cry out in its support. 

" Sir, I know the uncertainty of human affairs, but I see, I see clearly, 
through this day s business. You and I, indeed, may rue it. We 
may not live to the time when this declaration shall be made good. 
We may die; die, colonists; die, slaves; die, it may be,.ignominiously 
and on the scaffold. Be it so. Be it so. If it be the pleasure of 
Heaven that my country shall require the poor offering of my life, 
the victim shall be ready, at the appointed hour of sacrifice, come 
when that hour may. But, while I do live, let me have a country, or 
at least the hope of a country, and that a free country. 

" But, whatever may be our fate, be assured, be assured, that this 
declaration will stand. It may cost treasure, and it may cost blood; 


but it will stand, and it will richly compensate for both. Through 
the thick gloom of the present I see the brightness of the future as 
the sun in heaven. We shall make this a glorious, an immorfal day. 
When we are in our graves, our children will honor it. They will 
celebrate it with thanksgiving, with festivity, with bonfires and illumi 
nations. On its annual return they will shed tears, copious, gushing 
tears, not of subjection and slavery, not of agony and distress, but of 
exultation, of gratitude, and of joy. Sir, before God, I believe the 
hour has come. My judgment approves this measure, and my whole 
heart is in it. All that I have, and all that I am, and all that I hope, 
in this life, I am now ready here to stake upon it; and I le^ve off, as 
I began, that, live or die, survive or perish, I am for the declaration. 
It is my living sentiment, and, by the blessing of God, it shall be my 
dying sentiment; independence now, and independence forever." 

And so that day shall be honored, illustrious prophet and patriot! 
so that day shall be honored, and, as often as it returns, thy renown 
shall come along with it, and the glory of thy life, like the day of thy 
death, shall not fail from the remembrance of men. 

It would be unjust, fellow-citizens, on this occasion, while we ex 
press our veneration for him who is the immediate subject of these 
remarks, were we to omit a most respectful, affectionate, and grateful 
mention of those other great mean, his colleagues, who stood with 
him, and, with the same spirit, the same devotion, took part in the 
interesting transaction. Hancock, the proscribed Hancock, exiled 
from his home by a military governor, cut off, by proclamation, from 
the mercy of the Crown Heaven reserved for him the distinguished 
honor of putting this great question to the vote, and of writing his 
own name first, and most conspicuously, on that parchment which 
spoke defiance to the power of the Crown of England. There, too, 
is the name of that other proscribed patriot, Samuel Adams; a man 
who hungered and thirsted for the independence of his country; who 
thought the declaration halted and lingered, being himself not only 
ready, but eager, for it, long before it was proposed; a man of the 
deepest sagacity, the clearest foresight, and the profoundest judgment 
in men. And there is Gerry, himself among the earliest and the fore 
most of the patriots, found, when the battle of Lexington summoned 
them to common councils, by the side of Warren; a man who lived to 
serve his country at home and abroad, and to die in the second place 
in the government. There, too, is the inflexible, the upright, the 
Spartan character, Robert Treat Paine. He, also, lived to serve his 
country through the struggle, and then withdrew from her councils, 
only that he might give his labors and his life to his native state in 
another relation. These names, fellow-citizens, are the treasures of 
the commonwealth, and they are treasures which grow brighter by 

It is now necessary to resume, and to finish, with great brevity, the 


notice of the lives of those whose virtues and services we have met to 

Mr. Adams remained in Congress from its first meeting till Novem 
ber, 1777, when he was appointed minister to France. He proceeded 
on that service, in the February following, embarking in the Boston 
frigate, on the shore of his native town, at the foot of Mount Wallas- 
ton. The year following, he was appointed commissioner to treat of 
peace with England. Returning to the United States, he was a dele 
gate from Braintree in the convention for framing the constitution of 
this commonwealth, in 1780. At the latter end of the same year, he 
again went abroad, in the diplomatic service of the country, and was 
employed at various courts, and occupied with various negotiations, 
until 1788. The particulars of these interesting and important ser 
vices this occasion does not allow time to relate. In 1782 he con 
cluded our first treaty with Holland. His negotiations with that re 
public; his efforts to persuade the States-General to recognize our 
independence; his incessant and indefatigable exertions to represent 
the American cause favorably, on the continent, and to counteract the 
designs of his enemies, open and secret; and his successful undertak 
ing to obtain loans, on the credit of a nation yet new and unknown, 
are among his most arduous, most useful, most honorable services. 
It was his fortune to bear a part in the negotiation for peace with 
England, and, in something more than six years from the declaration 
which he had so strenuously supported, he had the satisfaction to see 
the minister plenipotentiary of the Crown subscribe to the instrument 
which declared that his "Britannic Majesty acknowledged the United 
States to be free, sovereign, and independent." In these important 
transactions Mr. Adams s conduct received the marked approbation 
of Congress and of the country. 

While abroad, in 1787, he published his Defence of the American 
Constitutions; a work of merit and ability, though composed with haste, 
on the spur of a particular occasion, in the midst of other occupations, 
and under circumstances not admitting of careful revision. The im 
mediate object of the work was to counteract the weight of opinions 
advanced by several popular European writers of that day M. Turgot, 
the Abbe de Mably, and Dr. Price at a time when the people of the 
United States were employed in forming and revising their systems of 

Returning to the United States in 1788, he found the new government 
about going into operation, and was himself elected the first vice- 
president a situation which he filled with reputation for eight years, 
at the expiration of which he was raised to the presidential chair, as 
immediate successor to the immortal Washington. In this high station 
he was succeeded by Mr. Jefferson, after a memorable controversy be 
tween their respective friends, in 1801; and from that period his man 
ner of life has been known to all who hear me. He has lived, for 


five-and-twenty years, with every enjoyment that could render old age 
happy. Not inattentive to the occurrences of the times, political 
cares have yet not materially, or for any long time disturbed his repose. 
In 1820, he acted as elector of president and vice-president, and in the 
same year we saw him, then at the age of eighty-five, a member of the 
convention of this commonwealth, called to revise the constitution. 
Forty years before, he had been one of those who formed that con 
stitution; and he had now the pleasure of witnessing that there was 
little which the people desired to change. Possessing all his faculties to 
the end of his long life, with an unabated love of reading and contem 
plation, in Ihe centre of interesting circles of friendship and affection, 
he was blessed, in his retirement, with whatever of repose and felicity 
the condition of man allows. He had, also, other enjoyments. He 
saw around him that prosperity and general happiness, which had 
been the object of his public cares and labors. No man ever beheld 
more clearly, and for a longer time, the great and beneficial effects 
of the services rendered by himself to his country. That liberty, which 
he so early defended, that independence, of which he was so able an 
advocate and supporter, he saw, we trust, firmly and securely estab 
lished. The population of the country thickened around him faster, 
and extended wider, than his own sanguine predictions had antici 
pated; and the wealth, respectability, and power, of the nation sprang 
up to a magnitude which it is quite impossible he could have expected 
to witness in his day. He lived, also, to behold those principles of 
civil freedom, which had been developed, established, and practically 
applied in America, attract attention, command respect, and awaken 
imitation, in other regions of the globe; and well might, and well did 
he, exclaim, "Where will the consequences of the American revolu 
tion end?" 

If anything yet remain to fill this cup of happiness, let it be added, 
that he lived to see a great and intelligent people bestow the highest 
honor in their gift, where he had bestowed his own kindest parental 
affections, and lodged his fondest hopes. Thus honored in life, thus 
happy at death, he saw the jubilee, and he died; and with the last 
prayers which trembled on his lips, was the fervent supplication for 
his county, " independence forever." 

Mr. Jefferson, having been occupied, in the years 1778 and 1779, in 
the important service of revising the laws of Virginia, was elected 
governor of that state, as successor to Patrick Henry, and held the 
situation when the state was invaded by the British arms. In 1781, he 
published his Notes on Virginia, a work which attracted attention in 
Europe as well as America, dispelled many misconceptions respecting 
this continent, and gave its author a place among men distinguished 
for science. In November, 1783, he again took his seat in the con 
tinental congress; but in the May following was appointed minister 
plenipotentiary, to act abroad in the negotiation of commercial treaties, 


with Dr Franklin and Mr. Adams. He proceeded to France, in 
execution of this mission, embarking at Boston, and that was the only 
occasion on which he ever visited this place. In 1785, he was ap 
pointed minister to France, the duties of which situation he continued 
to perform, until October, 1789, when he obtained leave to retire, just 
on the eve of that tremendous revolution which has so much agitated 
the world, in our times. Mr. Jefferson s discharge of his diplomatic 
duties was marked by great ability, diligence, and patriotism, and 
while he resided at Paris, in one of the most interesting periods, his 
character for intelligence, his love of knowledge, and of the society of 
learned men, distinguished him in the highest circles of the French 
capital. No court in Europe had, at that time, in Paris, a representative 
commanding or enjoying higher regard, for political knowledge or for 
general attainment, than the minister of this then infant republic. 
Immediately on his return to his native country, at the organization of 
the government under the present constitution, his talents and ex 
perience recommended him to president Washington, for the first office 
in his gift. He was placed at the head of the department of state. 
In this situation, also, he manifested conspicuous ability. His cor 
respondence with the ministers of other powers residing here, and 
his instructions to our own diplomatic agents abroad, are among our 
ablest state-papers. A thorough knowledge of the laws and usages of 
nations, perfect acquaintance with the immediate subject before him, 
great felicity, and still greater facility, in writing, show themselves in 
whatever effort his official situation called on him to make. It is be 
lieved, by competent judges, that the diplomatic intercourse of the 
government of the United States, from the first meeting of the con 
tinental congress in 1774 to the present time, taken together, would 
not suffer, in respect to the talent with which it has been conducted, 
by comparison with anything which other and older states can pro 
duce; and to the attainment of this respectability and distinction, Mr. 
Jefferson has contributed his full part. 

On the retirement of General Washington from the presidency, and 
the election of Mr. Adams to that office, in 1797, he was chosen vice- 
jflresident. While presiding, in this capacity, over the deliberations of 
the Senate, he compiled and published a Manual of Parliamentary 
Practice a work of more labor and more merit than is indicated by 
its size. It is now received as the general standard by which proceed 
ings are regulated, not only in both houses of Congress, but in most 
of the other legislative bodies in the country. In 1801, he was elected 
president, in opposition to Mr. Adams, and re-elected in 1805, by a 
vote approaching towards unanimity. 

From the time of his final retirement from public life, in 1807, Mr. Jef 
ferson lived as became a wise man. Surrounded by affectionate friends, 
his ardor in the pursuit of knowledge nndiminished, with uncommon 
health, and unbroken spirits, he was able to enjoy largely the rational 


pleasures of live, and to partake in that public prosperity which he 
had so much contributed to produce. His kindness and hospitality, 
the charm of his conversation, the ease of his manners, the extent of 
his acquirements, and especially the full store of revolutionary inci 
dents, which he possessed, and which he knew when and how to dis 
pense, rendered his abode in a high degree attractive to his admiring 
countrymen; while his high public and scientific character drew to 
wards him every intelligent and educated traveler from abroad. Both 
Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson had the pleasure of knowing that the 
respect which they so largely received, was not paid to their official 
stations. They were not men made great by office; but great men, 
on whom the country for its own benefit had conferred office. There 
was that in them which office did not give, and which the relinquishment 
of office did not and could not take away. In their retirement, in the 
midst of their fellow-citizens, themselves private citizens, they enjoyed 
as high regard and esteem as when filling the most important places 
of public trust. 

There remained to Mr. Jefferson yet one other work of patriotism 
and beneficence the establishment of a university in his native state. 
To this object he devoted years of incessant and anxious attention, 
and by the enlightened liberality of the legislature of Virginia, and 
the co-operation of other able and zealous friends, he lived to see 
it accomplished. May all success attend this infant seminary; and 
may those who enjoy its advantages, as often as their eyes shall rest 
on the neighboring height, recollect what they OAVC to their disinter 
ested and indefatigable benefactor; and may letters honor him who 
thus labored in the cause of letters. 

Thus useful, and thus respected, passed the old age of Thomas 
Jefferson. But time was on its ever-ceaseless wing, and was now 
bringing the last hour of this illustrious man. He saw its approach 
with undisturbed serenity. He counted the moments as they passed, 
and beheld that his last sands were falling. That day, too, was at 
hand, which he had helped to make immortal. One wish, one hope 
if it were not presumptuous beat in his fainting breast. Could it 
be so might it please God he would desire once more to see the 
sun once more to look abroad on the scene around him, on the great 
day of liberty. Heaven, in its mercy, fulfilled that prayer. He saw 
that sun he enjoyed its sacred light he thanked God for this mercy, 
and bowed his aged head to the grave. "Felix, non vita tantuin 
claritate, sed etiam opporiunitate mostis." 

The last public labor of Mr. Jefferson naturally suggests the expres 
sion of the high praise which is due, both to him and to Mr. Adams, 
for their uniform and zealous attachment to learning, and to the cause 
of general knowledge. Of the advantages of learning, indeed, and 
of literary accomplishments, their own characters were striking recom 
mendations and illustrations. They were scholars, ripe and good 


scholars; widely acquainted with ancient as well as modern literature, 
and not altogether uninstructed in the deeper sciences. Their acquire 
ments, doubtless, were different, and so were the particular objects of 
their literary pursuits; as their tastes and characters, in these respects, 
differed like those of other men. Being, also, men of busy lives, with 
great objects requiring action constantly before them, their attainments 
in letters did not become showy or obstrusive. Yet I would hazard the 
opinion, that if we could now ascertain all the causes which gave them 
eminence and distinction in the midst of the great men with whom 
they acted, we should find, not among the least, their early acquisition 
in literature, the resources which it furnished, the promptitude and 
facility which it communicated, and the wide field it opened, for an 
alogy and illustration; giving thus, on every subject, a larger view, 
and a broader range, as well for discussion as for the government of 
their own conduct. 

Literature sometimes, and pretensions to it much oftener, disgusts, by 
appearing to hang loosely on the character, like something foreign or 
extraneous, not a part, but an ill-adjusted appendage ; or by seeming 
to overload and weigh it down, by its unsightly bulk, like the produc 
tions of bad taste in architecture, where there is massy and cumbrous 
ornament, without strength or solidity of column. This has exposed 
learning, and especially classical learning, to reproach. Men have seen 
that it might exist, without mental superiority, without vigor, without 
good taste, and without utility. But, in such cases, classical learning 
has only not inspired natural talent ; or, at most, it has but made 
original feebleness of intellect, and natural bluntness of perception, 
something more conspicuous. The question, after all, if it be a ques 
tion, is, whether literature, ancient as well as modern, does not assist a 
good understanding, improve natural good taste, acid polished armor to 
native strength, and render its possessor not only more capable of de 
riving private happiness from contemplation and reflection, but more 
accomplished, also, for action in the affairs of life, and especially for 
public action. Those whose memories we now honor, were learned 
men ; but their learning was kept in its proper place, and made sub 
servient to the uses and objects of life. They were scholars, not com 
mon, nor superficial ; but their scholarship was so in keeping with their 
character, so blended and inwrought, that careless observers, or bad 
judges, not seeing an ostentatious display of it, might infer that it did 
not exist; forgetting, or not knowing, that classical learning, in men 
who act in conspicuous public stations, perform duties which exercise 
the faculty of writing, or address popular, deliberative, or judicial 
bodies, is often felt, where it is little seen, and sometimes felt more ef 
fectually, because it is not seen at all. 

But the cause of knowledge, in a more enlarged sense, the cause of 
general knowledge and of popular education, had no warmer friends, 
nor more powerful advocates, than Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson. On 


tliis foundation, they knew, the whole republican system rested ; and 
this great and all-important truth they strove to impress by all the means 
in their power. In the early publication, already referred to, Mr. Adams 
expresses the-strong and just sentiment, that the education of the poor is 
more important, even to the rich themselves, than all their own riches. 
On this great truth, indeed, is founded that unrivalled, that invaluable 
political and moral institution, our own blessing, and the glory of our 
fathers the New England system of free schools. 

As the promotion of knowledge had been the object of their regard 
through life, so these great men made it the subject of their testamentary 
bounty. Mr. Jefferson is understood to have bequeathed his library to 
the university, and that of Mr. Adams is bestowed on the inhabitants 
of Quincy. 

Mr. Adams and Mr. Jefferson, fellow-citizens, were successively presi 
dents of the United States. The comparative merits of their respective 
administrations for a long time agitated and divided public opinion. 
They were rivals, each supported by numerous and powerful portions of 
the people, for the highest office. This contest, partly the cause, and 
partly the consequence, of the long existence of two great political par 
ties in the country, is now part of the history of our government. We 
may naturally regret that any thing should have occurred to create dif 
ference and discord between those who had acted harmoniously and 
efficiently in the great concerns of the revolution. But this is not the 
time, nor this the occasion, for entering into the grounds of that dif 
ference, or for attempting to discuss the merits of the questions which it 
involves. As practical questions, they were canvassed when the meas 
ures which they regarded were acted on and adopted ; and as belonging 
to history, the time has not come for their consideration. 

It is, perhaps, not wonderful, that when the constitution of the United 
States went first into operation, different opinions should be entertained 
as to the extent of the powers conferred by it. Here was a natural 
source of diversity of sentiment. It is still less wonderful, that , 
that event, about contemporary with our government, under the present 
constitution, which so entirely shocked all Europe, and disturbed 
our relations with her leading powers, should be thought, by different 
men, to have different bearings on our own prosperity ; and that the 
early measures adopted by our government, in consequence of this new 
state of things, should be seen in opposite lights. It is for the future 
historian, when what now remains of prejudice and misconception shall 
have passed away, to state these different opinions, and pronounce im 
partial judgment. In the mean time, all good men rejoice, and well 
may rejoice, that the sharpest differences sprung out of measures, which, 
whether right or wrong, have ceased, with the exigencies that gave them 
birth, and have left no permanent effect, either on the constitution, or 
on the general prosperity of the country. This remark, I am aware, 
may be supposed to have its exception in one measure, the alteration of 


the constitution as to the mode of choosing president ; but it is true in 
its general application. Thus the course of policy pursued towards 
France, in 1798, on the one hand, and the measures of commercial re 
striction, commenced in 1807, on the other, both subjects of warm and 
severe opposition, have passed away, and left nothing behind them. 
They were temporary, and, whether wise or unwise, their consequences 
were limited to their respective occasions. It is equally clear, at the 
same time, and it is equally gratifying, that those measures of both 
administrations, which were of durable importance, and which drew 
after them interesting and long-remaining consequences, have received 
general approbation. Such was the organization, or rather the creation, 
of the navy, in the administration of Mr. Adams ; such the acquisition of 
Louisiana, in that of Mr. Jefferson. The country, it may safely be 
added is not likely to be willing either to approve, or to reprobate, 
indiscriminately, and in the aggregate, all the measures of either, or of 
any, administration. The dictate of reason and of justice is, that hold 
ing each one his own sentiments on the points in difference, we imitate 
the great men themselves, in the forbearance and moderation which they 
have cherished, and in the mutual respect and kindness which they have 
been so much inclined to feel and to reciprocate. 

No men ; fellow-citizens, ever served their country with more entire 
exemption from every imputation of selfish and mercenary motive than 
those to whose memory we are paying these proofs of respect. A sus 
picion of any disposition to enrich themselves or to profit by their public 
employments, never rested on either. No sordid motive approached 
them. The inheritance which they have left to their children, is of their 
character and their fame. 

Fellow-citizens, I will detain you no longer by this faint and feeble 
tribute to the memory of the illustrious dead. Even in other hands, 
adequate justice could not be performed, within the limits of this oc 
casion. Their highest, their best praise, is your deep conviction of their 
merits, your affectionate gratitude for their labors and services. It is 
not my voice, it is this cessation of ordinary pursuits, this arresting of 
all attention, these solemn ceremonies, and this crowded house, which 
speak their eulogy. Their fame, indeed, is safe. That is now treasured 
up beyond the reach of accident. Although no sculptured marble, 
should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their 
deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored. 
Marble columns may, indeed, moulder into dust, time may erase all im 
press from the crumbling stone, but their fame remains; for which 
perish. It was the last swelling peal of yonder-choir, l< THEIR BODIES 


that solemn song, I echo that lofty strain of funeral triumph, " THEIR 


Of the illustrious signers of the Declaration of Independence there 


now remains only Charles Carroll. He seems an aged oak, standing 
alone on the plain, which time has spared a little longer, after all its 
contemporaries have been levelled with the dust. Venerable object ! 
we delight to gather round its trunk, while yet it stands, and to dwell 
beneath its shadow. Sole survivor of an assembly of as great men as 
the world has witnessed, in a transaction, one of the most important 
that history records, what thoughts, what interesting reflections must 
fill his elevated and devout soul ! If he dwell on the past, how 
touching its recollections ; if he survey the present, how happy, how 
joyous, how full of the fruition of that hope, which his ardent patriotism 
indulged ; if he glance at the future, how does the prospect of his 
country s advancement almost bewilder his weakened conception ! 
Fortunate, distinguished patriot ! Interesting relic of the past Let 
him know that while we honor the dead, we do not forget the living ; 
and that there is not a heart here which does not fervently pray that 
Heaven may keep him yet back from the society of his companions. 

And now, fellow-citizens, let us not retire from this occasion without 
a deep and solemn conviction of the duties which have devolved upon 
us. This lovely land, this glorious liberty, these benign institutions, 
the dear purchase of our fathers, are ours ; ours to enjoy, ours to pre 
serve, ours to transmit. Generations past, and generations to come, 
hold us responsible for this sacred trust. Our fathers, from behind, ad 
monish us, with their anxious paternal voices ; posterity calls out to us, 
from the bosom of the future ; the world turns hither itssolicitous eyes all, 
all conjure us to act wisely, and faithfully, in the relation which we sustain. 
We can never, indeed, pay the debt which is upon us ; but by virlure, 
by morality, by religion, by the cultivation of every good principle and 
every good habit, we may hope to enjoy the blessing, through our day, 
and to leave it unimpaired to our children. Let us feel deeply how 
much, of what we are and of what we possess, we owe to this liberty, 
and these institutions of government. Nature has, indeed, given us a 
soil which yields bounteously to the hands of industry ; the mighty and 
fruitful ocean is before us, and the skies over our heads shed health and 
vigor. But what are lands, and seas, and skies, to civilized man, without 
society, without knowledge, without morals, without religious culture? 
and how can these be enjoyed, in all their extent, and all their excel 
lence, but under the protection of wise institutions and a free govern 
ment ? Fellow-citizens, there is not one of us, there is not one of us 
here present, who does not, at this moment, and at every moment, ex 
perience iu his own condition, and in the condition of those most near 
and dear to him, the influence and the benefits of this liberty, and these 
institutions. Let us then acknowledge the blessing ; let us feel it deeply 
and powerfully ; let us cherish a strong affection for it, and resolve to 
maintain and perpetuate it. The blood of our fathers, let it not have 
been shed in vain ; the great hope of posterity, let it not be blasted. 

The striking attitude, too, in which we stand to the world around us, 


a topic to which I fear, I advert too often, and dwell on too long, 
cannot be altogether omitted here. Neither individuals nor nations can 
perform their part well until they understand and feel its importance, 
and comprehend and justly appreciate all the duties belonging to it. It 
is not to inflate national vanity, nor to swell a light and empty feeling 
of self-importance ; but it is that we may judge justly of our situation, 
and of our own duties, that I earnestly urge this consideration of our 
position, and our character, among the nations of the earth. It cannot 
be denied, but by those who would dispute against the sun, that with 
America, and in America, a new era commences in human affairs This 
era is distinguished by free representative governments, by entire reli 
gious liberty, by improved systems of national intercourse, by a newly 
awakened and an unconquerable spirit of free inquiry, and by a diffusion 
of knowledge through the community, such as has been before alto 
gether unknown and unheard of. America, America, our country, 
fellow citizens, our o\vn dear and native land, is inseparably connected, 
fast bound up, in fortune and by fate, with these great interests. If 
they fall, we fall with them ; if they stand, it will be because we have 
upholden them. Let us contemplate, then, this connection, which 
binds the prosperity of others to our own ; and let us manfully dis 
charge all the duties which it imposes. If we cherish the virtues anil 
tlu principles of our fathers, Heaven will assist us to carry on the work 
of human liberty and human happiness. Auspicious omens cheer us. 
Great examples are before us. Our own firmament now shines brightly 
upon our path. Washington is in the clear upper sky. Those other 
stars have now joined the American constellation ; they circle round 
their centre, and the heavens beam with new light. Beneath this illu 
mination, let us walk the course of life, and at its close devoutly com 
mend our beloved country, the common parent of us all, to the Divine 



What constitutes a State? 
Not high raised battlement or labored mound, 

Thick wall or moated gate : 
Not cities proud with spires and turrets crowned; 

Not bays and broad-armed ports, 
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride; 

Not starred and spangled courts, 
Where lowbrowed baseness -wafts perfume to pride. 

.Afa: MEN, high-minded men, 
With powers as far above dull brutes endued 

In forest, brake, or den, 

As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude- 
Men who their duties know, 
But know their rights, and, knowing, dare maintain^ 

Prevent the long-aimed blow, 

And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain: 
These constitute a State. 



New York, April 30, 1789. 

TATIVES Among the vicissitudes incident to life, no event could have 
filled me with greater anxieties than that, of which the notification was 
transmitted by your order, and received on the fourth day of the, 
present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, 
whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a 
retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my 
flattering hopes, with an immutable decision as the asylum of my de 
clining years; a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary 
as well as more dear to me, by the addition of habit to inclination, and 
of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed 
en it by time, on the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the 
trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to 
awaken, in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens, a distrust 
ful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with 
despondence one who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature, 
and unpractised in the duties of civil administration, ought to be pecu 
liarly co s:ious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotion?, 
all I dare aver is, that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty 
from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be 
affected. All I dare hope is, that if, in executing this task, I have been 
too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or 
by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confi 
dence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my 
incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares 
before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which misled 
me, and its consequences be judged by my country, with some share 
of the partiality in which they originated. 

Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the 
public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly 
improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to 
that Almighty Being, who rules over the universe, who presides in the 
councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every 
human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and 
happiness of the people of the United States, a government instituted 


by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every in 
strument employed in its administration, to execute, with success, the 
functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the 
Great Author of every public and private good, l assure myself that it 
expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fel 
low-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to 
acknowledge and adore the invisible hand which conducts the affairs 
of men, more than the people of the United States. Every step by 
which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, 
seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential 
agency. And, in the important revolution just accomplished, in the 
system of their united government, the tranquil deliberations and vol 
untary consent of so many distinct communities, from which the event 
has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by which most gov 
ernments have been established, without some return of pious grati 
tude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings, which 
the past seems to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present 
crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be sup 
pressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are 
none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free 
government can more auspiciously commence. 

By the article establishing the executive department, it is made the 
duty of the president "to recommend to your consideration, such 
measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The circum 
stances under which I now meet you, will acquit me from entering 
into that subject farther than to refer you to the great constitutional 
charter under which we are assembled; and which, in defining your 
powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. 
It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more con 
genial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a 
recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the 
talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters 
selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications, 
I behold the surest pledges, that as, on one lo:al prejudices 
or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect 
the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great 
assemblage of communities and interests so, on another, that the 
foundations oi our national policy will be laid in the pure and immu 
table principles of priv?.te morality; and the pre-eminence of a free 
government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the 
affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world. 

I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love 
for my country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughaly 
established than that there exists, in the economy and course of nature, 
an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness between duty 
and advantage between the genuine maxims of an honest and 


magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and 
felicity since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious 
smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards 
the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained 
and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny 
of the republican model of government, are justly considered as 
deeply, perhaps, as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the 
hands of the American people. 

Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will remain 
with your judgment to decide how far an exercise of the occasional 
power delegated by the fifth article of the constitution is rendered ex 
pedient, at the present juncture, by the nature of objections which 
have been urged against the system, or by the degree of inquietude 
which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular 
recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no 
lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my 
entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good. 
For, I assure myself, that, whilst you carefully avoid every alteration 
which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective govern 
ment, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience, a rever 
ence for the characteristic rights of freemen, and a regard for the 
public harmony, will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the 
question, how far the former can be more impregnably fortified, or the 
latter be safely and more advantageously promoted. 

To the preceding observations I have one to add, which will be most 
properly addressed to the House of Representatives. It concerns my 
self, and will therefore be as brief as possible. 

When I was first honored with a call into the service of my cc untry, 
then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the 11 ht in 
which I contemplated my duty, required that I should renounce every 
pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance 
departed. And being still under the impressions which produced it, I 
must decline, as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal 
emoluments, which may be indispensably include d in a permanent 
provision for the executive department; and must accordingly pray that 
the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed, m?.y, 
during my continuation in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as 
the public good may be thought to require. 

Having thus imparted to you my sentiments, as they have been 
awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my 
present leave, but not without resorting once more to the benign 
Parent of the human race, in humble supplication, that* since he has 
been pleased to favo.r the American people with opportunities for de 
liberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with 
unparalleled unanimity, on a form of government for the security of 
their union, and the advancement of their happiness, so his divine 
A P 7 


blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the tem 
perate consultations and the wise measures on which the success of 
this government must depend. 


United States, September 17, 1796. 

FRIENDS AND FELLOW CITIZENS The period for a new election of 
a citizen, to administer the executive government of the United States, 
being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts 
must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with 
that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may con 
duce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should 
now apprize you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being con 
sidered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be 

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured, that 
this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the 
considerations appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful citi 
zen to his country; and that, in withdrawing the tender of service, 
which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no 
diminution of zeal for your future interest; no deficiency of grateful 
respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction 
that the step is compatible with both. 

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which 
your suffrages have twice called me, have been a uniform sacrifice of 
inclination to the opinion of duty, and to a deference for what appeared 
to be your desire. I constantly hoped, that it would have been much 
earlier in my power, consistently with motives, which I was not at 
liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement, from which I had 
been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, 
previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an ad 
dress to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed 
and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unani 
mous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to 
abandon the idea. 

I rejoice, that the state of your concerns, external as well as inter 
nal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the 
sentiment of duty, or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever parti 
ality may bg retained for my services, that, in the present circum 
stances of our countr} , you will not disapprove my determination to 


The impressions, with which I first undertook the arduous trust, 
were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, 
I will only say, that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards 
the organization and administration of the government the best exer 
tions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious 
in the outset, of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my 
own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened 
the motives to diffidence of myself, and every, day the increasing 
weight of years admonishes me more and more, that the shade of re 
tirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied, that, 
if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they 
were temporary, I have the consolation to believe, that, while choice 
and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not 
forbid it. 

In looking forward to the moment, which is intended to terminate 
the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend 
the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude, which I owe to 
my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me ; 
still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me , 
and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my in 
violable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in 
usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our coun 
try from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, 
and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances 
in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mis 
lead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune 
often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of suc 
cess has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your 
support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the 
plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this 
idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to 
unceasing vows that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens 
of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be per 
petual, that the free constitution, which is the work of your hands, 
may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every depart 
ment may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the hap 
piness of the people of these states, under the auspices of liberty, may 
be made complete, by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use 
of this blessing, as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it 
to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation, which is 
yet a stranger to it. 

Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But a solicitude for your welfare, 
which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger, 
natural to that solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to 
offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your fre 
quent review, some sentiments, which are the result of much reflec- 


tlon, of no inconsiderable observation, an-d which appear to me all- 
important to the permanency of your felicity as a people. These will 
be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them 
the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have 
no personal motive to bias his counsel. Nor can I forget, as an en 
couragement to it, your indulgent reception of my sentiments on a 
former and not dissimilar occasion. 

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your 
hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm 
the attachment. 

The unity of government, which constitutes you one people, is also 
now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice 
of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home, 
your peace abroad, of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very 
liberty, which you so highly prize But as it is easy to foresee, that, 
from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be 
taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the convic 
tion of this truth, as this is the point in your political fortress against 
which the. batteries of internal and external enemies will be most con 
stantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, 
it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense 
value of your national union to your collective and individual happi 
ness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable at 
tachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of 
the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its 
preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may 
suggest even a suspicion, that it can in any event be abandoned, and 
indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to 
alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the 
sacred ties which now link together the various parts. 

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. 
Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a 
right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which 
belongs to you, in your national .capacity, must always exalt the just 
pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local dis 
criminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same re 
ligion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a com 
mon cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and 
liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts, of 
common dangers, sufferings, and successes. 

But these considerations, however powerfully they address them 
selves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which 
apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our 
country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding 
and preserving the union of the whole. 

The North, in an unrestrained intercourse with the South, protected 


by the equal laws of a common government, finds In the productions of 
the latter, great additional resources of maritime and commercial 
enterprise and precious materials of manufacturing 1 industry. The 
South, in the same intercourse, benefiting by the agency of 
the North, see its agriculture grow and its commerce expand. 
Turning partly into its own channels the seamen of the North, it 
finds its particular navigation invigorated ; and, while it contributes, 
in different ways, to nourish and increase the general mass of the 
national navigation, it looks forward to the protection of a maritime 
strength, to which itself is unequally adapted. The East, in a like 
intercourse with the West, already finds, and in the progressive im 
provement of interior communications by land and water, will more 
and more find, a valuable vent for the commodities which it brings 
from abroad, or manufactures at home. The West derives from the 
East supplies requisite to its growth and comfort, and, what is per 
haps of still greater consequence, it must of necessity owe the secure 
enjoyment of indispensable outlets for its own productions to the 
weight, influence, and the future maritime strength of the Atlantic 
side of the Union, directed by an indissoluble Community of interest 
as one nation. Any other tenure by which t&e West can hold this 
essential advantage, whether derived from its own separate strength, 
or from an apostate and unnatural connexion with any foreign power, * 
must be intrinsically precarious. 

While, then, every part of our country thus feels an immediate and 
particular interest in union, all the parts combined cannot fail to find 
in the united mass of means and efforts greater strength, greater 
resource, proportionably greater security from external danger, a less 
frequent interruption of their peace by foreign nations ; and, what is 
of inestimable value, they must derive from union an exemption 
from those broils and wars between themselves, which so frequently 
afflict neighboring countries not tied together by the same govern 
ments, which their own rivalships alone would be sufficient to pro 
duce, but which opposite foreign alliances, attachments, and intrigues 
would stimulate and embitter. Hence, likewise, they will avoid the 
necessity of those overgrown military establishments, which, under 
any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to 
be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty. In this 
sense it is, that your union ought to be considered as a main prop of 
your liberty, and that the love of the one ought to endear to you the 
preservation of the other. 

These considerations speak a persuasive language to every reflect 
ing and virtuous mind, and exhibit the continuance of the Union as a 
primary object of patriotic desire. Is there a doubt whether a com 
mon government can embrace so large a sphere ? Let experience 
solve it. To listen to mere speculation in such a case were criminal. 
We are authorized to hope, that a proper organization of the whole, 


with the auxiliary agency of governments for the respective sub 
divisions, will afford a happy issue to the experiment. It is well 
worth a fair and full experiment. With such powerful and obvious 
motives to union, affecting all parts of our country, while experience 
shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be 
reason to distrust the patriotism of those, who in any quarter may 
endeavor to weaken its bands. 

In contemplating the causes which may disturb our Union, it 
occurs as matter of serious concern, that any ground should have 
been furnished for characterizing parties by geographical discrimina 
tions, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western ; whence design 
ing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference 
of local interests and views. One of the expedients of party to 
acquire influence, within particular districts, Is to misrepresent the 
opinions and aims of other districts. You cannot shield yourselves 
too much against the jealousies and heart-burnings, which spring 
from these misrepresentations; they tend to render alien to each other 
those, who ought to be bound together by fraternal affection. The 
inhabitants of our western country have lately had a useful lesson on 
this head; they have seen, in the negotiation by the Executive, and in 
the unanimous ratification by the Senate, of the treaty with Spain, and 
in the universal satisfaction at that event, throughout the United States, 
a decisive proof how unfounded were the suspicions propagated 
among them of a policy in the General Government and in the Atlan 
tic States unfriendly to their interests in regard to the Mississippi ; 
they have been witnesses to the formation of two treaties, that with 
Great Britain, and that with Spain, which secure to them every thing 
they could desire, in respect to our foreign relations, towards confirm 
ing their prosperity. Will it not be their wisdom to rely for the pre 
servation of these advantages on the Union by which they were pro 
cured ? Will they not henceforth be deaf to those advisers, if such 
there are, who would sever them from their brethren and connect them 
with aliens ? 

To the efficacy and permanency of your Union, a Government for 
the whole is indispensable. No alliances, however strict, between the 
parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience 
the infractions and interruptions, which all alliances in all times have 
experienced. Sensible of this momentous truth, you have improved 
upon your first essay, by the adoption of a Constitution of Govern 
ment better calculated than your former for an intimate Union, and 
for the efficacious management of your common concerns. This Gov 
ernment, the offspring of our own choice, uninfluenced and unawed, 
adopted upon full investigation and mature deliberation, completely 
free in its principles, in the distribution of its powers, uniting security 
with energy, and containing within itself a provision for its own 
amendment, has a just claim to your confidence and your support. 


Respect for its authority, compliance with its laws, acquiescence in its 
measures, are duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of true 
Liberty. The basis of our political systems is the right of the people 
to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the con 
stitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and au 
thentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The 
very idea of the power and the right of the people to establish Gov 
ernment presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the estab 
lished Government. 

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and 
associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design 
lo direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and 
action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this funda 
mental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize 
faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in 
the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, of 
ten a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; 
and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make 
the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongru 
ous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and 
wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by 
mutual interests. 

However combinations or associations of the above description may 
now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of 
time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, am 
bitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power 
of the people, and to usurp for themselves the reins of government; 
destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to un 
just dominion. 

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency 
of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily 
discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, 
but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its 
principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault 
may be to effect, in the forms of the constitution, alterations, which 
will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what 
cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may 
be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix 
the true character of governments, as of other human institutions; 
that experience is the surest standard, by which to test the real ten 
dency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, 
upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual 
change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and re 
member, especially, that, for the efficient management of your com 
mon interests, in a country co extensive as ours, a government of as 
much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty i3 in- 


dispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with 
powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, 
indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to 
withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the 
society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all 
in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and 

I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, 
with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical dis 
criminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and 
warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of 
the spirit of party, generally. 

This spirit, unfortunately, is inseparable from our nature, having 
its root in the strongest passions of the human mind. It exists under 
different shapes in all governments, more or less stifled, controlled, 
or repressed; but, in those of the popular form, it is seen in its great 
est rankness, and is truly their worst enemy. 

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened 
by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different 
ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself 
a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and 
permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries, which result, 
gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the 
absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some 
prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, 
turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the 
ruins of public liberty. 

Without looking fonvard to an extremity of this kind (which never 
theless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and con 
tinual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the 
interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. 

It serves always to distract the public councils, and enfeeble the 
public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded 
jealousies and false alarms; kindles the animosity of one part against 
another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the 
door to foreign influence and corruption, which find a facilitated access 
to the government itself through the channels of party passions. 
Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy 
and will of another. 

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks 
upon the administration of the government, and serve to keep alive 
the spirit of liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and 
in governments of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indul 
gence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the 
popular character, in governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to 
be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will 

GEOR CE 1 1 \-l SUING TON. 1 9 1 

al\vavs be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, 
there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force 
of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be 
quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into 
a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume. 

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free coun 
try should inspire caution, in those intrusted with its administration, 
to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, 
avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach 
upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the 
powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the 
form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love 
of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the hu 
man heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The 
necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by 
dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constitut 
ing each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the oth 
ers, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of 
them In our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them 
must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the 
people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers 
be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in 
the way which the constitution designates. But let there be no 
change by usurpation; for, though this, in one instance, may be the 
instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free govern 
ments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance 
in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can 
at any time yield. 

Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, 
religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that 
man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these 
great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of 
men and citizens. The mere politician-, equally with the pious man, 
ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all 
their connexions with private and public felicity. Let it simply be 
asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if 
the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instru 
ments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution 
indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without reli 
gion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education 
on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us 
to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious 

It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring 
of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less 
force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere 


friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the 
foundation of the fabric ? 

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for 
the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of 
a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public 
opinion should be enlightened. 

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public 
credit. One method of preserving it is, to use it as sparingly as pos 
sible; avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remem 
bering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger fre 
quently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding 
likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of 
expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the 
debts, which unavoidable wars may have occasioned not ungenerously 
throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to 
bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, 
but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate 
to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should 
practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must 
be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes 
can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleas 
ant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of 
the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be 
a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the gov 
ernment in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures 
for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time 

Observe good faith and justice towards all nations; cultivate peace 
and harmony with all. Religion and morality enjoin this conduct; and 
can it be, that good policy does not equally enjoin it? It will be 
worthy of a free, enlightened, and at no distant period, a great nation, 
to give to mankind the magnanimous and too novel example of a 
people always guided by an exalted justice and benevolence. Who 
can doubt, that in the course of time and things, the fruits of such a 
plan would richly repay any temporary advantages, which might be 
lost by a steady adherence to it ? Can it be that Providence has not 
connected the permanent felicity of a nation with its virtue? The ex 
periment, at least, is recommended by every sentiment which ennobles 
human nature. Alas! is it rendered impossible by its vices? 

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential, than that 
permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and 
passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in 
place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be culti 
vated. The nation, which indulges towards another an habitual 
hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a 
slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to 


lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation 
against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, 
to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intract 
able, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, 
frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The 
nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war 
the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The 
Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and 
adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it 
makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility 
instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious mo 
tives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations 
has been the victim. 

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another pro 
duces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitat 
ing the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where 
no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities 
of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quar 
rels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justi 
fication. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of 
privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the nation 
making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to 
have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposi 
tion to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are with 
held. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who 
devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice 
the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even 
with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of 
obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable 
zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, cor 
ruption or infatuation. 

As avenues to foreign influence in innumerable ways, such attach 
ments are particularly alarming to the truly enlightened and indepen 
dent patriot. How many opportunities do they afford to tamper with 
domestic factions, to practice the arts of seduction, to mislead public 
opinion, to influence or awe the public councils! Such an attachment 
of a small or weak, towards a great and powerful nation, dooms the 
former to be the satellite of the latter. 

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to 
believe me, fellow-citizens), the jealousy of a free people ought to be 
be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign 
influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. 
But that jealousy, to be useful, must be impartial; else it becomes the 
instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defence 
against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation, and excessive 
dislike of another, cause those whom they actuate to sec danger only 


on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on 
the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite, 
are liable to become suspected and odious; while its tools and dupes 
usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their 

/ The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in 
extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political 
connexion as possible. So far as we have already formed engage 
ments, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. 

Europe has a set of primary interests, which to us have none, or a 
very remote relation. Hence she must be engaged in frequent con 
troversies, the causes of which are essentially foreign to our concerns. 
Hence, therefore, it must be unwise in us to implicate ourselves, by 
artificial ties, in the ordinary vicissitudes of her politics, or the ordinary 
combinations and collisions of her friendships or enmities. J 

Our detached and distant situation invites and enables us to pursue 
a different course. If we remain one people, under an efficient govern 
ment, the period is not far off when we may defy material injury from 
external annoyance ; when we may take such an attitude as will cause 
the neutrality, we may at any time resolve upon, to be scrupulously 
respected; when belligerent nations, under the impossibility of making 
acquisitions upon us, will not lightly hazard the giving us provocation; 
when we may choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, 
shall counsel. 

Why forego the advantages of so peculiar a situation? Why quit our 
own to stand upon foreign ground ? Why, by interweaving our destiny 
with that of any part of Europe, entangfe our peace and prosperity in 
the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice? 

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any 
portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty 
to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infi 
delity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable 
to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy 
I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their gen 
uine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be un 
wise to extend themy 

Taking care always to keep ourselves, by suitable establishments, 
on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary 
alliances for extraordinary emergencies. 

Harmony, liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by 
policy, humanity, and interest. But even our commercial policy 
should hold an equal and impartial hand; neither seeking nor granting 
exclusive favors or preferences; consulting the natural course of 
things; diffusing and diversifying by gentle means the streams of com 
merce, but forcing nothing; establishing, with powers so disposed, in 
order to give trade a stable course, to define the rights of our mer- 


chants, and to enable the government to support them, conventional 
rules of intercourse, the best that present circumstances and mutual 
opinion will permit, but temporary, and liable to be from time to time 
abandoned or varied, as experience and circumstances shall dictate; 
constantly keeping in view, that it is folly in one nation to look for 
disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of 
its independence for whatever it may accept under that character; 
that, by such acceptance, it may place itself in the condition of having 
given equivalents for nominal favors, and yet of being reproached with 
ingratitude for not giving more. There can be no greater error than 
to expect or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. It is an 
illusion, which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to dis 

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and af 
fectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and 
lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual cur 
rent of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course, 
which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even 
flatter myself, that they may be productive of some partial benefit, 
some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate 
the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign in 
trigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this 
hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by 
which they have been dictated. 

How far in the discharge of my official duties, I have been guided by 
the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other 
evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To 
myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least 
believed myself to be guided by them. 

In relation to the still subsisting war in Europe, my proclamation of 
the 22d of April, 1793, is the index of my plan. Sanctioned by your 
approving voice, and by that of your Representatives in both Houses 
of Congress, the spirit of that measure has continually governed me, 
uninfluenced by any attempts to deter or divert me from it. 

After deliberate examination, with the aid of the best lights I could 
obtain, I was well satisfied that our country, under all the circum 
stances of the case, had a right to take, and was bound in duty and 
interest to take, a neutra! position. Having taken it, I determined, 
as far as should depend upon me, to maintain it, with moderation, 
perseverance and firmness. 

The considerations which respect the right to hold this conduct, it 
is not necessary on this occasion to detail. I will only observe, that, 
according to my understanding of the matter, that right, so far from 
being denied by any of the belligerent powers, has been virtually ad 
mitted by all. 

The duty of holding a neutral conduct maybe inferred, without any- 


thing more, from the obligation which justice and humanity impose on 
every nation, in cases in which it is free to act, to maintain inviolate 
the relations of peace and amity towards other nations. 

The inducements of interest for observing that conduct will best be 
referred to vour own reflections and experience. With me a predomi 
nant motive has been to endeavor to gain time to our country to settle 
and mature its yet recent institutions, and to progress without inter 
ruption to that degree of strength and consistency, which is necessary 
to give it, humanly speaking, the command of its own fortunes. 

Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am un 
conscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my 
defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many er 
rors. Whatever they may be I fervently beseech the Almighty to 
avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry 
with me the hope, that my country will never cease to view them with 
indulgence; and that, after forty-five years of my life dedicated to its 
service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will 
be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of 

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by 
that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man, who views 
in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several genera 
tions; I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat, in which I 
promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of par 
taking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good 
laws under a free government, the ever favorite object of my heart, 
and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and 


United Slates, September \7th, 1796. 



Washington, November 28, 1808. 

I agree to this resolution, because, in my apprehension, it offers a 
solemn pledge to this nation a pledge not to be mistaken, and not to 
be evaded that the present system of public measures shall be totally 
abandoned. Adopt it, and there is an end of the policy of deserting 
our rights, under a pretense of maintaining them. Adopt it, and we 
no longer yield to the beck of haughty belligerents the rights of navi 
gating the ocean, that choice inheritance bequeathed to us by our 
fathers. Adopt it, and there is a termination of that base and abject 


submission by which this country has for these eleven months been 
disgraced and brought to the brink of ruin. 

It remains for us, therefore, to consider what submission is, and 
what the pledge not to submit implies. 

One man submits to the order, decree, or edict of another, when he 
does that thing which such order, decree, or edict commands, or when 
he omits to do that thing which such order, decree, or edict prohibits. 
This, then, is submission. It is to do as we are bidden. It is to take 
the will of another as a measure of our rights. It is to yield to his 
power, to go where he directs, or to refrain from going where he 
forbids us. 

If this be submission, then the pledge not to submit implies the 
reverse of all this. It is a solemn declaration that we will not do that 
thing which such order, decree, or edict commands, or that we will do 
what it prohibits. This, then, is freedom. This is honor. This is 
independence. It consists in taking the nature of things, and not the 
will of another, as the measure of our rights. What God and nature 
offer us we will enjoy in despite of the commands, regardless of the 
menaces of iniquitous power. 

Let us apply these correct and undeniable principles to the edicts of 
Great Britain and France, and the consequent abandonment of the 
ocean by the American government. The decrees of France prohibit 
us from trading with Great Britain. The orders of Great Britain pro 
hibit us from trading with France. And what do we do? Why, in direct 
subserviency to the edicts of each, we prohibit our citizens from trading 
with either. We do more. As if unqualified submission was not 
humiliating enough, we descend to an act of supererogation in servility; 
we abandon trade altogether; we not only refrain from that particular 
trade which their respective edicts proscribe, but, lest the ingenuity 
of our merchants should enable them to evade their operation, to make 
submission doubly sure, the American government virtually re-enact 
the edicts of the belligerents, and abandon all the trade which, not 
withstanding the practical effects of their edicts, remains to us. The 
same conclusion will result if we consider our embargo in relation to 
the objects of this belligerent policy. France, by her edicts, would 
compress Great Britain by destroying her commerce and cutting off her 
supplies. All the continent of Europe, in the hand of Bonaparte, is 
made subservient to this policy. The embargo law of the United 
States, in its operation, is an union with the continental coalition 
against British commerce at the very moment most auspicious to its 
success. Can anything be in more direct subserviency to the views of 
the French Emperor? If we consider the orders of Great Britain, the 
result will be the same. I proceed at present on the supposition of a 
perfect impartiality in our administration towards both belligerents, 
so far as relates to the embargo law, Great Britain had two objects 


in issuing her orders. First, to excite discontent in the people on the 
continent, by depriving them of their accustomed colonial supplies. 
Second, to secure to herself that commerce of which she deprived 
neutrals. Our embargo co-operates with the British view in both re 
spects. By our dereliction of the ocean, the continent is much more 
deprived of the advantages of commerce than it would be possible for 
the British navy to effect, and by removing our competition all the com 
merce of the continent which can be forced is wholly left to be reaped 
by Great Britain. The language of each sovereign is in direct con 
formity with these ideas. Napoleon tells the American minister, vir 
tually, that we are very good Americans; that although he will not 
allow the property he has in his hands to escape him, nor desist from 
burning and capturing our vessels on every occasion, yet that he is, 
thus far, satisfied with our co-operation. And what is the language of 
George III., when our minister presents to his consideration the em 
bargo laws? Is it Le roy s avisera ? "The king will reflect upon 
them." No, it is the pure language of royal approbation, Le roy le vent 
" The king wills it." Were you colonies, he could expect no more. 
His subjects as inevitably get that commerce which you abandon, as 
the water will certainly run into the only channel which remains after 
all the others are obstructed. In whatever point of view you consider 
these embargo laws in relation to those edicts and decrees, we shall 
rind them co-operating with each belligerent in its policy. In this way, 
I grant, our conduct may be impartial. But what has become of our 
American rights to navigate the ocean? They are abandoned in strict 
conformity to the decrees of both belligerents. This resolution de 
clares that we will no longer submit to such degrading humiliation. 
Little as I relish it, I will take it as the harbinger of a new day, the 
pledge of a new system of measures. 

Perhaps here, in strictness, I ought to close mv observations. But 
the report of the committee, contrary to what I deem the principle of 
the resolution, unquestionably recommends the continuance of the 
embargo laws. And such is the state of the nation, and in particular 
that portion of it which, in part, I represent, under their oppression, 
that I cannot refrain from submitting some considerations on that 

When I enter on the subject of the embargo, I am struck with won 
der at the very threshold. I know not with what words to express 
my astonishment. At the time I departed from Massachusetts, if 
there was an impression which I thought universal, it was that at the 
commencement of this session an end would be put to this measure. 
The opinion was not so much that it would be terminated, as that it 
was then at an end. Sir, the prevailing sentiment, according to my 
apprehension, was stronger than this, even that the pressure was so 
great that it could not possibly be longer endured; that it would soon 
be absolutely insupportable. And this opinion, as I then had reason 


to believe, was not confined to any one class, or description, or party, 
even those who were friends of the existing administration, and un 
willing to abandon it, were yet satisfied that a sufficient trial had been 
given to this measure. With these impressions, I arrive in this city. 
I hear the incantation of the great enchanter. I feel his spell. I see 
the legislative machinery begin to move. The scene opens, and I am 
commanded to forget all rny recollections, to disbelieve the evidence 
of my senses, to contradict what I have seen, and heard, and felt. I 
hear that all this discontent was merely party clamor, electioneering 
artifice; that the people of New England are able and willing to endure 
this embargo for an indefinite, unlimited period; some say for six 
months, some a year, some two years. The gentleman from North 
Carolina (Mr. Macon) told us that he preferred three years of em 
bargo to a war. And the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Clopton) said 
expressly, that he hoped we should never allow our vessels to go upon 
the ocean again, until the orders and decrees of the belligerents were 
rescinded. In plain English, until France and Great Britain should, in 
their great condescension, permit. Good Heavens ! Mr. Chairman, 
are men mad? Is this House touched with that insanity which is the 
never-failing precursor of the intention of Heaven to destroy? The 
people of New England, after eleven months deprivation of the ocean, 
to be commanded still longer to abandon it, for an undefined period, 
to hold their inalienable rights at the tenure of the will of Great Britain 
or of Bonaparte ! A people commercial in all aspects, in all their re 
lations, in all their hopes, in all their recollections of the past, in all 
their prospects of the future, a people, whose first love was the ocean, 
the choice of their childhood, the approbation of their manly years, 
the most precious inheritance of their fathers, in the midst of their 
success, in the moment of the most exquisite perception of commercial 
prosperity, to be commanded to abandon it, not for a time limited, but 
fora time unlimited, not until they can be prepared to defend them 
selves there (for that is not pretended), but until their rivals recede 
from it, not until their necessities require, but until foreign .nations 
pc-rmit ! I am lost in astonishment, Mr. Chairman. I have not words 
to express the matchless absurdity of this attempt. I have no tongue 
to express the swift and headlong destruction which a blind persever 
ance in such a system must bring upon this nation. 

Mr. Chairman, other gentleman must take their responsibilties I 
shall take mine. This embargo must be repealed. You cannot en 
force it for any important period of time longer. When I speak of 
your inability to enforce this law, let not gentlemen misunderstand 
me. I mean not to intimate insurrections or open defiance of them. 
Although it is impossible to foresee in what acts that "oppression," will 
finally terminate, which, we are told, "makes wise men mad," I 
speak of an inability resulting from very different causes. 


The gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Macon) exclaimed the 
other day, in a strain of patriotic ardor, "What! shall not our laws 
be executed ? Shall their authority be defied ? I am for enforcing 
them at every hazard." I honor that gentleman s zeal: and I mean 
no deviation from that true respect I entertain for him, when I tell 
him, that in this instance "his zeal is not according to knowledge." 

I ask this House, is there no control to its authority ? is there no 
limit to the power of this national legislature ? I hope I shall offend 
no man when I intimate that two limits exist, nature and the 
constitution. Should this House undertake to declare that this 
atmosphere should no longer surround us, that water should cease to 
flow, that gravity should not hereafter operate, that the needle should 
not vibrate to the pole, I do suppose, Mr. Chairman, Sir, I mean no 
disrespect to the authority of this House, I know the high notions 
some gentlemen entertain on this subject, I do suppose Sir, I hope 
I shall not offend I think I may venture to affirm, that, such a law 
to the contrary notwithstanding, the air would continue to circulate, 
the Mississippi, the Hudson, and the Potomac would hurl their floods 
to the ocean, heavy bodies continue to descend, and the mysterious 
magnet hold on its course to its celestial cynosure. 

Just as utterly absurd and contrary to nature is it to attempt to 
prohibit the people of New England, for any considerable length of 
time, from the ocean. Commerce is not only associated with all the 
feelings, the habits, the interests and relations of that people, but the 
nature of our soil and of our coast, the state of our population and 
its mode of distribution over our territory, render it indispensable. 
We have five hundred miles of sea-coast; all furnished with harbors, 
bays, creeks, rivers, inlets, basins, with every variety of invitation 
to the sea, with every species of facility to violate such laws as these. 
Our people are not scattered over an immense surface; at a solemn 
distance from each other, in lordly retirement, in the midst of ex 
tended plantations and intervening wastes. They are collected on the 
margin of the ocean, by the sides of rivers, at the heads of bays, 
looking into the water or on the surface of it for the incitement and 
thj reward of their industry. Among a people thus situated, thus 
educated, thus numerous, laws prohibiting them from the exercise of 
I their natural rights will have a binding effect not one moment longer 
[than the public sentiment supports them 

I ask in what page of the constitution you find the power of 
laying an embargo ? Directly given it is nowhere. You have it, then, 
by construction, or by precedent. By construction of the power to 
regulate. I lay out of the question the commonplace argument, that 
regulation cannot mean annihilation; and that what is annihilated 
cannot be regulated. I ask this question, Can a power be ever 
obtained by construction which had never been exercised at the time 
of the authority given, the like of which had not only never been 

JO SI A II Q L AVC F, JR. 2 o I 

seen, but the idea of which had never entered into h lman imagina 
tion, I will not say in this country, but in the world? Yet such is 
this power, which by construction you assume to exercise. Never 
before did society witness a total prohibition of all intercourse like 
this in a commercial nation. Did the people of the United States 
invest this House. with a power of which at the time of investment 
that people had not and could not have had any idea? For even in 
works of fiction it had never existed. 

But it has been asked in debate, "will not Massachusetts, the 
cradle of liberty, submit to such privations?" An embargo liberty 
was never cradled in Massachusetts. Our liberty was not so much a 
mountain as a sea nymph. She was as free as air. She could swim, 
or she could run. The ocean was her cradle ? Our fathers met her 
as she came, like the goddess of beauty, from the waves. They 
caught her as she was sporting on the beach. They courted her 
whilst she was spreading her nets upon the rocks. But an embargo 
liberty, a handcuffed liberty, a liberty in fetters, a liberty traversing 
between four sides of a prison, and beating her head against the 
walls, is none of our offspring. We abjure the monster. Its parent 
age is all inland. 

"The gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Macon) exclaimed the 
other day, "Where is the spirit of 76 ?" Ay, sir; where is it ? Would 
to Heaven that at our invocation it would condescend to alight on this 
floor. But let gentlemen remember, that the spirit of 76 was not a 
spirit of empty declamation, or of abstract propositions. It did not 
content itself with non-importation acts, or non-intercourse laws. It 
was a spirit of active preparation, of dignified energy. It studied 
both to know our rights and to devise the effectual means of maintain 
ing them. In all the annals of 76, you will find no such degrading 
doctrine as that maintained in this report. It never presented to the 
people of the United States the alternative of war or a suspension of 
our rights, and recommend the latter rather than to incur risk of the 
former. What was the language of that period in one of the addresses 
of Congress to Great Britain? "You attempt to reduce us by the 
sword to base and abject submission. On the sword, therefore, we 
rely for protection." In that day there were no alternatives presented 
to dishearten, no abandonment of our rights under the pretence of 
maintaining them, no gaining the battle by running away. In the 
whole history of that period there are no such terms as " embargo, 
dignified retirement, trying who can do each other the most harm." 
At that time we had a navy, that name so odious to the influences of 
the present day. Yes, Sir, in 1776, though but in our infancy, we had 
a navy scouring our coasts, and defending our commerce, which was 
never for one moment wholly suspended. In 1776 we had an army 
also; and a glorious army it was! not composed of men halting from 
the stews, or swept from the jails, but of the best blood, the real yeo- 


manry of the country, noble cavaliers, men without fear, and without 
reproach. We had such an army in 1776, and Washington was at its 
head. We have an army in 1808, and a head to it. 

I will not humiliate those who lead the fortunes of the nation at the 
present day by any comparison with the great men of that period. But 
I recommend the advocates of the present system of public measures 
to study well the true spirit of 1776, before they venture to call it in aid 
of their purposes. It may bring in its train some recollections not 
suited to give ease or hope to their bosoms. I beg gentlemen who are 
so frequent in their recurrence to that period to remember, that among 
the causes which led to a separation from Great Britain the following 
are enumerated- Unnecessary restrictions upon trade; cutting off com 
mercial intercourse between the colonies; embarrassing our fisheries; 
wantonly depriving our citizens of necessaries; invasion of private pro 
perty by governmental edicts; the authority of the commander-in- 
chief, and under him of the brigadier-general, being rendered supreme 
in the civil government; the commander-in-chief of the army made 
governor of a colony; citizens transferred from their native country 
for trial. Let the gentlemen beware how they appeal to the spirit of 
76; lest it come with the aspect, not of a friend, but of a tormentor, 
lest they find a warning when they look for support, aqd instead of en 
couragement they are presented with an awful lesson. 

Let me ask, Is embargo independence ? Deceive not yourselves. 
It is palpable submission. Gentlemen exclaim, Great Britain "smites 
us on one cheek." And what does Administration? "It turns the 
other also." Gentlemen say, Great Britain is a robber, she " takes our 
cloak." And what says Administration? " Let her take our coat also." 
France and Great Britain require you to relinquish a part of your com 
merce, and you yield it entirely. Sir, this conduct may be the way to 
dignity and honor in another world, but it will never secure safety and 
independence in this. 

At every corner of this great city we meet some gentlemen of the 
majority, wringing their hands and exclaiming, "What shall we do ? 
Nothing but embargo will save us. Remove it, and what shall we do ?" 
Sir, it is not for me, an humble and uninfluential individual, at an aw 
ful distance from the predominant influences, to suggest plans of 
government. But to my eye the path of our duty is as distinct as the 
milky way, all studded with living sapphires, glowing with cumulat 
ing light. It is the path of active preparation, of dignified energy. It 
is the path of 1776. It consists, not in abandoning our rights, but in 
supporting them, as they exist, and where they exist, on the ocea as 
well as on the land. It consists in taking the nature of things as the 
measure of the rights of your citizens, not the orders and decrees of im 
perious foreigners. Give what protection you can. Take no counsel 

JO SI A 11 QUINCY, JR. 203 

of fear. Your strength will increase with the trial, and prove greater 
than you are now aware. 

But I shall be told, " This may lead to war." I ask, " Are we now 
at peace?" Certainly not, unless retiring from insult be peace, unless 
shrinking under the lash be peace. The surest way to prevent war is 
not to fear it. The idea that nothing on earth is so dreadful as war is 
inculcated too studiously among us. Disgrace is worse. Abandon 
ment of essential rights is worse. 

Sir, I could not refrain from seizing the first opportunity of spread 
ing before this House the sufferings and exigencies of New England 
under this embargo. Some gentlemen may deem it not strictly before 
us. It is my opinion it is necessarily. For, if the idea of the com 
mittee be correct, and embargo is resistance, then this resolution sanc 
tions its continuance. If, on the contrary, as I contend, embargo is 
submission, then this resolution is a pledge of its repeal. 


Washington, January 25, 1812. 

If this commerce were the mushroom growth of a night, if it had its 
vigor from the temporary excitement and the accumulated nutriment 
which warring elements in Europe had swept from the places of their 
natural deposit, then, indeed, there might be some excuse for a tem 
porizing policy touching so transitory an interest. But commerce in 
the Eastern States is of no foreign growth, and of no adventitious 
seed. Its root is of a fibre which almost two centuries have nour 
ished; and the perpetuity of its destiny is written in legible character; 
as well in the nature of the country as in the dispositions of its in 
habitants. Indeed, sir, look along your whole coast, from Passama- 
quoddy to Capes Henry and Charles, and behold the deep and far- 
winding creeks and inlets, the noble basins, the projecting headlands, 
the majestic rivers, and those sounds and bays which are more like 
inland seas than like anything called by those names in other quarters 
of the globe. Can any man do this and not realize that the destiny of 
the people inhabiting such a country is essentially maritime? Can 
any man do this without being impressed by the conviction that, al 
though the poor projects of politicians may embarrass, for a time, the 
dispositions growing out of the condition of such a country, yet that 
Nature will be too strong for cobweb regulation and will vindicate 
her rights with certain effect, -perhaps with awful perils ? No nation 
ever did or ever ought to resist such allurements and invitations to a 
particular mode of industry. 


The purposes of Providence relative to the destination of men are 
to be gathered from the circumstances in which his beneficence has 
placed them. And to refuse to make use of the means of prosperity 
which his goodness has put into our hands, what is it but spurning at 
his bounty, and rejecting the blessings which his infinite wisdom 
has designated for us by the very nature of his allotments ? The 
employments of industry connected with navigation and commercial 
enterprise are precious to the people of that quarter of the country by 
ancient prejudice, not less than by recent profit. The occupation is 
rendered dear and venerable by all the cherished associations of our 
infancy, and all the sage and prudential maxims of our ancestors. 
And as to the lessons of encouragement derived from recent experi 
ence, what nation ever within a similar period received so many that 
were sweet and salutary ? What nation in so short a time ever before 
ascended to such a height of commercial greatness ? 

It has been said by some philosophers of the other hemisphere 
that Nature in this New World had worked by a sublime scale; that 
our mountains and rivers and lakes were beyond all comparison greater 
than anything the Old World could boast; that she had here made 
nothing diminutive except its animals. And ought we not to fear 
lest the bitterness of this sarcasm should be concentrated on our 
country by a course of policy wholly unworthy of the magnitude and 
nature of the interests committed to our guardianship? Have we not 
reason to fear that some future cynic, with an asperity which truth 
shall make piercing, will declare, that all things in these United States 
are great except its statesmen ? and that we are pygmies to whom 
Providence has intrusted, for some inscrutable purpose, gigantic 
labors ? Can we deny the justice of such severity of remark, if, in 
stead of adopting a scale of thought and a standard of action propor 
tionate to the greatness of our trust and the multiplied necessities of 
the people, we bring to our task the mere measures of professional in 
dustry, and mete out contributions for national safety by our fee-tables, 
our yard-sticks, and our gill-pots Can we refrain from subscribing 
to the truth of such censure, if we do not rise in some degree to the 
height of our obligations, and teach ourselves to conceive, and with 
the people to realize, the vastness of those relations which are daily 
springing among states which are not so much one empire as a con 
gregation of empires ? 

While I am on this point, I cannot refrain from noticing a strange 
solecism which seems to prevail touching the term flag. It is talked 
about as though there was something mystical in its very nature, as 
though a rag with certain stripes and stars on it tied to a stick, and 
called a flag, was a wizard wand, and entailed security on everything 
under it or within its sphere. There is nothing like all this in the 
nature of the thing. A flag is the evidence of power ? A land flag is 


evidence of land power. A maritime flag is evidence of maritime 
power. You may have a piece of bunting upon a staff, and call it a 
flag, but if you have no maritime power to maintain it, you have a 
name and no reality; you have the shadow without the substance; 
you have the sign of a flag, but in truth you have no flag. 

Mr. Speaker, can any one contemplate the exigency which at this 
day depresses our country, and for one moment deem it exceptional] 
The degree of such commercial exigencies may vary, but they must 
always exist. It is absurd to suppose that such a population as is that 
of the Atlantic States can be either driven or decoyed from the ocean. 
It is just as absurd to imagine that wealth will not invite cupidity, and 
that weakness will not insure both insult and plunder. The circum 
stances of our age make this truth signally impressive. Who does not 
see in the conduct of Europe a general departure from those common 
principles which once constituted national morality ? What is safe 
which power can seize or ingenuity can circumvent ? or what truths 
more palpable than these : that there is no safety for national rights 
but in the national arm, and that important interests systematically 
pursued must be systematically protected ? 

Touching that branch of interest which is most precious to com 
mercial men, it is impossible that there can be any mistake. For, 
however dear the interests of property or of life exposed upon the 
ocean may be to their owners or their friends, yet the safety of our 
altars and of our firesides, of our cities and of our sea-board, must, 
from the nature of things, be entwined with the affections by ties in 
comparably more strong and tender. And it happens that both na 
tional pride and honor are peculiarly identified with the support of these 
primary objects of commercial interest. 

" It is in this view, I state, that the first and most important object 
of the nation ought to be such a naval force as shall give such a degree 
of national security as the nature of the subject admits to our cities 
and seaboard, and coasting trade; that the system of maritime protec 
tion ought to rest on this basis; and that it should not attempt to go 
further until these objects are secured. And I have no hesitation to 
declare that, until such a maritime force be systematically maintained 
by this nation, it shamefully neglects its most important duties and 
most critical interests. 

But, it is inquired, What effect will this policy have upon the pres 
ent exigency? I answer, the happiest in every respect. To exhibit a 
definitive intent to maintain maritime rights by maritime means, what 
is it but to develop new stamina of national character ? No nation 
can have or has a right to hope for respect from others which does not 


first learn to respect itself. And how is this to be attained ? By a 
course of conduct conformable to its duties, and relative to its con 
dition. If it abandons what it ought to defend, if it flies from the field 
it is bound to maintain, how can it hope for honor ? To what other 
inheritance is it entitled but disgrace ? Foreign nations undoubtedly 
look upon this Union with eyes long read in the history of man, and 
with thoughts deeply versed in the effects of passion and interest upon 
independent states, associated by ties so apparently slight and novel. 
They understand well that the rivalries among the great interests of 
such states the natural envyings which in all countries spring up be 
tween agriculture, commerce, and manufactures the inevitable jeal 
ousies and fears of each other of South and North, interior and sea 
board ; the incipient or progressive rancor of party animosity are 
the essential weaknesses of sovereignties thus combined. Whether 
these causes shall operate, or whether they shall cease, foreign nations 
will gather from the features of our policy. They cannot believe that 
such a nation is strong in the affections of its associated parts when 
they see the vital interests of whole states abandoned. But reverse 
this policy; show a definitive and stable intent to yield the natural 
protection to such essential interests; then they will respect you. And 
to powerful nations honor comes attended by safety. 

Mr. Speaker, what is national disgrace ? Of what stuff is it com 
posed ? Is a nation disgraced because its flag is insulted because its 
seamen are impressed because its course upon the highway of the 
ocean is obstructed ? No, sir. Abstractly considered, a l this is not 
disgrace. Because all this may happen to a nation so weak as not to 
be able to maintain the dignity of its flag, or the freedom of its citi 
zens, or the safety of its course. Natural weakness is never disgrace. 
But, sir, this is disgrace: when we submit to insult and to injury which 
we have the power to prevent or redress. Its essential constituents 
are want of sense or want of spirit. When a nation with ample 
means for its defence is so thick in the brain as not to put them into a 
suitable state of preparation; or when, with sufficient muscular force, 
it is so tame in spirit as to seek safety, not in manly effort, but in re 
tirement, then a nation is disgraced ; then it shrinks from its high and 
sovereign character into that of the tribe of Issachar, crouching down 
between two burdens the French burden on the one side and the 
British on the other so dull, so lifeless, so stupid that, were it not for 
its braying, it could not be distinguished from the clod of the 

The general effect of the policy I advocate is to produce confidence 
at home, and respect abroad. These are twin shoots from the same 
stock, and never fail to flourish or fade together. Confidence is a plant 
of no mushroom growth and of no artificial texture. It springs only 
from sage counsels and generous endeavors. The protection you ex.* 


tend must be efficient, and suited to the nature of the object you pro 
fess to maintain. If it be neither adequate nor appropriate, your wis 
dom will be doubted, your motives will be distrusted, and in vain you 
will expect confidence. The inhabitants of the seaboard will inquire of 
their own senses, and not of your logic, concerning the reality of their 

As to respect abroad, what course can be more certain to insure it ! 
What object more honorable, what more dignified, than to behold a 
great nation pursuing wise ends by appropriate means, rising to 
adopt a series of systematic exertions suited to her power, and adequate 
to her purposes ? What object more consolatory to the friends, what 
more paralyzing to the enemies, of our Union, than to behold the natu 
ral jealousies and rivalries which are the acknowledged dangers of our 
political condition subsiding or sacrificing? What sight more exhilar 
ating than to see this great nation once more walking forth among 
the nations of the earth under the protection of r.o foreign shield ? 
Peaceful, because powerful. Powerful, because united in interests and 
amalgamated by concentration of those interests in the national affec 

But let the opposite policy prevail; let the essential interests of the 
great component parts of this Union find no protection under the na 
tional arm; instead of safety let them realize oppression, and the 
sceds of discord and dissolution are inevitably sown in a soil the best 
fitted for their root, and affording the richest nourishment for their ex 
pansion. It may be a long time before they ripen. But sooner or 
later they will assuredly burst forth in all their destructive energies. In 
the intermediate period, what aspect does a union thus destitute of 
cement present? Is it that of a nation keen to discern, and strong to 
resist, violations of its sovereignty ? It has rather the appearance of a 
casual collection of semi-barbarous clans, with the forms of civilization 
and the rude and rending passions of the savage state. In truth, 
powerful, yet, as to any foreign affect, imbecile. Rich in the goods of 
fortune, yet wanting that inherent spirit without which a nation is poor 
indeed; their strength exhausted by struggles for local power; their 
moral sense debased by low intrigues for personal popularity or tem 
porary pre-eminence; all their thoughts turned, not to the safety of the 
State, but to the elevation of a chieftain. A people presenting such an 
aspect, what have they to expect abroad ? What but pillage, insult, 
and scorn ? 

The choice is before us. Persist in refusing efficient maritime pro 
tection; persist in the system of commercial restrictions; what now is 
perhaps anticipation will hereafter be history. 




Chcirlestown^ June 17, 1825. 

This uncounted multitude before me, and around me, proves the 
feeling which the occasion has excited. These thousands of human 
faces, glowing with sympathy and joy, and, from the impulses of a 
common gratitude, turned reverently to heaven, in this spacious tem 
ple of the firmament, proclaim that the day, the place, and the purpose 
of our assembling, have made a deep impression on our hearts. 

If, indeed, there be any thing in local association fit to affect the 
mind of man, we need not strive to repress the emotions which agitate 
us here. We are among the sepulchres of our fathers. We are on 
ground distinguished by their valor, their constancy, and the shedding 
of their blood. We are here, not to fix an uncertain date in our an 
nals, nor to draw into notice an obscure and unknown spot. If our 
humble purpose had never been conceived, if we ourselves had never 
been born, the iyth of June, 1775, would have been a day on which all 
subsequent history would have poured its light, and the eminence 
where we stand, a point of attraction to the eyes of successive genera 
tions. But we are Americans. We live in what may be called the 
early age of this great continent; and we know that our posterity, 
through all time, are here to suffer and enjoy the allotments of hu 
manity. W r e see before us a probable train of great events; we know 
that our own fortunes have been happily cast; and it is natural, there 
fore, that we should be moved by the contemplation of occurrences 
which have guided our destiny before many of us were born, and set 
tled the condition in which we should pass that portion of our exist 
ence, which God allows to men on earth. 

We do not read even of the discovery of this continent without feel 
ing something of a personal interest in the event; without being re 
minded how much it has affected our own fortunes, and our own ex 
istence. It is more impossible for us, therefore, than for others, to 
contemplate with unaffected minds that interesting, I may say, that 
most touching and pathetic, scene, when the great discoverer of 
America stood on the deck of his shattered bark, the shades of night 
falling on the sea, yet no man sleeping tossed on the billows of an 
unknown ocean, yet the stronger billows of alternate hope and despair 
tossing his own troubled thoughts extending forward his harassed 
frame, straining westward his anxious and eager eyes, till Heaven at 
last granted him a moment of rapture and ecstacy, in blessing his 
vision with the sight of the unknown world. 


Nearer to our times, more closely connected with our fates, and 
therefore still more interesting to our feelings and affections, is the 
settlement of our own country by colonists from England. We cher 
ish every memorial of these worthy ancestors; we celebrate their pa 
tience and fortitude; we admire their daring enterprise; we teach our 
children to venerate their piety; and we are justly proud of being de 
scended from men who have set the world an example of founding 
civil institutions on the great and united principles of human freedom 
and human knowledge. To us, their children, the story of their labors 
and sufferings can never be without its interest. We shall not stand 
unmoved on the shore of Plymouth, while the sea continues to wash 
it; nor will our brethren in another early and ancient colony, forget 
the place of its first establishment, till their river shall cease to flow by 
it. No vigor of youth, no maturity of manhood, will lead the nation 
to forget the spots where its infancy was cradled and defended. 

But the great event in the history of the continent, which we are 
now met here to commemorate, that prodigy of modern times, at 
once the wonder and the blessing of the world, is the American 
revolution. In a day of extraordinary prosperity and happiness, of 
high national honor, distinction and power, we are brought together, 
in this place, by our love of country, by our admiration of exalted 
character, by our gratitude for signal services and patriotic devo 

The society, whose organ I am, was formed for the purpose of 
rearing some honorable and durable monument to the memory of the 
early friends of American independence. They have thought that, for 
this subject, no time could be more propitious than the present pros 
perous and peaceful period; that no place could claim preference over 
this memorable spot; and that no day could be more auspicious to 
the undertaking, than the anniversary of the battle which was here 
fought. The foundation of that monument we have now laid. With 
solemnities suited to the occasion, with prayers to Almighty God for 
his blessing; and in the midst of this cloud of witnesses, we have be- 
^un the work. We trust it will be prosecuted, and that, springing 
from a broad foundation, rising high in massive solidity and unadorned 
grandeur, it may remain, as long as Heaven permits the work of mar; 
to last, a fit emblem, both of the events in memory of which it is 
raised, and of the gratitude of those who have reared it. 

We know, indeed, that the record of illustrious actions is most 
safely deposited in the universal remembrance of mankind. We 
know, that if we could cause this structure to ascend, not only till it 
reached the skies, but till it pierced them, its broad surfaces could still 
contain but part of that, which, in an age of knowledge, hath already 
been spread over the earth, and which history charges itself with mak 
ing known to all future times. We know, that no inscription on en 
tablatures less broad than the earth itself, can carry information of the 


events we commemora e, where it has not already gone; and that no 
structure, which shall not outlive the duration of letters and knowledge 
among men, can prolong the memorial. But our object is, by this 
edifice to show our own deep sense of the value and importance of the 
achievements of our ancestors; and, by presenting this work of grati 
tude to the eye, to keep alive similar sentiments, and to foster a con 
stant regard for the principles of the revolution. Human beings are 
composed not of reason only, but of imagination also, and sentiment; 
and that is neither wasted nor misapplied which is appropriated to the 
purpose of giving right direction to sentiments, and opening proper 
springs of feeling in the heart. Let it not be supposed that our object 
is to perpetuate national hostility, or even to cherish a mere military 
spirit.. It is higher, purer, nobler. We consecrate our work to the 
spirit of national independence, and we wish that the light of peace 
may rest upon it forever. We rear a memorial of our conviction of 
that unmeasured benefit, which has been conferred on our own land, 
and of the happy influences, which have been produced, by the same 
events, on the general interests of mankind. We come, as Ameri 
cans, to mark a spot, which must forever be dear to us and our pos 
terity We wish that whosoever, in all coming time, shall turn his eye 
hither, may behold that the place is not undistinguished, where the 
first great battle of the revolution was fought. We wish that this 
structure may proclaim the magnitude and importance of that event, 
to every class and every age. We wish that infancy may learn the 
purpose of its erection from maternal lips, and that weary and withered 
age may behold it, and be solaced by the recollections which it sug 
gests. We wish that labor may look up here, and be proud, in the 
midst of its toil. We wish that, in those days of disaster, which, as 
they come on all nations, must be expected to come on us also, de 
sponding patriotism may turn its eyes hitherward, and be assured that 
the foundations of our national power still stand strong. We wish 
that this column, rising towards heaven among the pointed spires of 
so many temples dedicated to God, may contribute also to produce, in 
all minds, a pious feeling of dependence and gratitude. We wish, 
finally, that the last object on the sight of him who leaves his native 
shore, and the first to gladden his who revisits it, may be something 
which shall remind him of the liberty and the glory of his country. 
Let it rise, till it meet the sun in his coming; let the earliest light of 
the morning gild it. and parting day linger and play on its summit. 

We live in a most extraordinary age. Events so various and so im 
portant, that they might crowd and distinguish centuries, are, in our 
times, compressed within the compass of a single life. When has it 
happened that history has had so much to record, in the same term of 
years, or since the lyth of June, 1775? Our own revolution, which, 
under other circumstances, might itself have been expected to occasion 
a war of half a century, has been achieved; twenty-four sovereign and 


independent states erected; and a general government established over 
them, so safe, so wise, so free, so practical, that we might well wonder 
its establishment should have been accomplished so soon, were it not 
for the greater wonder that it should have been established at all. Two 
or three millions of people have been augmented to twelve; and the 
great forests of the west prostrated beneath the arm of successful indus 
try; and the dwellers on the banks of the Ohio and the Mississippi 
become the fellow-citizens and neighbors of those who cultivate the 
hills of New England. We have a commerce that leaves no sea unex 
plored; navies which take no law from superior force; revenues ade 
quate to all the exigencies of government, almost without taxation; 
and peace with all nations, founded on equal rights and mutual respect. 

Europe, within the same period, has been agitated by a mighty 
revolution, which, while it has been felt in the individual condition 
and happiness of almost every man, has shaken to the centre her po 
litical fabric, and dashed against one another thrones which had stood 
tranquil for ages. On this, our continent, our own example has been 
followed; and colonies have sprung up to be nations. Unaccustomed 
sounds of liberty and free government have reached us from beyond 
the track of the sun; and at this moment the dominion of European 
power, in this continent, from the place where we stand to the south 
pole, is annihilated forever. 

In the mean time, both in Europe and America, such has been the 
general progress of knowledge; such the improvements in legislation, 
in commerce, in the arts, in letters, and above all, in liberal ideas, 
and the general spirit of the age, that the whole world seems changed. 

Yet, notwithstanding that this is but a faint abstract of the things 
which have happened since the day of the battle of Bunker Hill, we 
are but fifty years removed from it; and we now stand here, to enjoy 
all the blessings of our own condition, and to look abroad on the 
brightened prospects of the world, while we hold still among us some 
of those, who were active agents in the scenes of 1775, and who are 
now here, from every quarter of New England, to visit, once more, 
and under circumstances so affecting, I had almost said so overwhelm 
ing, this renowned theatre of their courage and patriotism. 

Venerable men! you have come down to us, from a former genera 
tion. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you 
might behold this joyous day. You are now where you stood fifty 
years ago, this very hour, with your brothers, and your neighbors, 
shoulder to shoulder, in the strife for your country. Behold, how 
altered! The same heavens are indeed over your heads; the same 
ocean rolls at your feet; but all else, how changed! You hear now 
no roar of hostile cannon, you see no mixed volumes of smoke and 
flame rising from burning Charlestown. The ground strewed with 
the dead and the dying; the impetuous charge; the steady and suc 
cessful repulse; the loud call to repeated assault; the summoning of 


all that is manly to repeated resistance; a thousand bosoms freely and 
fearlessly bared in an instant to whatever of terror there may be in 
war and death; all these you have witnessed, but you witness them 
no more. All is peace. The heights of yonder metropolis, its towers 
and roofs, which you then saw filled with wives and children and 
countrymen in distress and terror, and looking with unutterable emo 
tions for the i^sue of the combat, have presented you to-day with the 
sight of its whole happy population, come out to welcome and greet 
you with a universal jubilee. Yonder proud ships, by a felicity of 
position appropriately lying at the foot of this mount, and seeming 
fondly to cling around it, are not means of annoyance to you, but 
your country s own means of distinction and defence. All is peace; 
and God has granted you this sight of your country s happiness, ere 
you slumber in the grave forever. He has allowed you to behold and 
to partake the reward of your patriotic toils; and he has allowed us, 
your sons and countrymen, to meet you here, and in the name of the 
present generation, in the name of your country, in the name of lib 
erty, to thank you! 

But, alas! you are not all here! Time and the sword have thinned 
your ranks. Prescott, Putnam, Stark, Brooks, Read, Pomeroy, 
Bridge! our eyes seek for you in vain amidst this broken band. You 
are gathered to your fathers, and live only to your country in her 
grateful remembrance, and your own bright example. But let us not 
too much grieve that you have met the common fate of men. You 
lived, at least, long enough to know that your work had been nobly 
and successfully accomplished. You lived to see your country s inde 
pendence established, and to sheathe your swords from war. On the 
light of liberty you saw arise the light of peace, like 

" another morn, 
Risen on mid-noon ;" 

and the sky, on which you closed your eyes, was cloudless. 

But ah! him! the first great martyr in this great cause! him! the 
premature victim of his own self-devoting heart! him! the head 
of our civil councils, and the destined leader of our military 
bands; whom nothing brought hither but the unquenchable fire 
of his own spirit; him! cut off by Providence, in the hour of 
overwhelming anxiety and thick gloom; falling ere he saw the star of 
his country rise; pouring out his generous blood, like water, before 
he knew whether it would fertilize a land of freedom or of bondage 1 
how shall I struggle with the emotions that stifle the utterance of thy 
name! Our poor work may perish; but thine shall endure! This 
monument may moulder away; the solid ground it rests upon may 
sink down to a level with the sea; but thy memory shall not fail! 
Wheresoever among men a heart shall be found, that beats to the 
transports of patriotism and liberty, its aspirations shall be to claim 
kindred with thy spirit! 


But the scene amidst which we stand does not permit us to confine 
our thoughts or our sympathies to those fearless spirits, who hazarded 
or lost their lives on this consecrated spot. We have the happiness 
to rejoice here in the presence of a most worthy representation of the 
survivors of the whole revolutionary army. 

Veterans! you are the remnant of many a well-fought field. You 
bring with you marks of honor from Trenton and Monmouth, from 
Yorktown, Camden, Bennington and Saratoga. Veterans of half a 
century! when, in your youthful days, you put everything at hazard 
in your country s cause, good as that cause was, and sanguine as 
youth is, still your fondest hopes did not stretch onward to an hour 
like this! At a period to which you could not reasonably have ex 
pected to arrive; at a moment of national prosperity, such as you 
could never have foreseen, you are now met, here, to enjoy the fellow 
ship of old soldiers, and to receive the overflowings of a universal 

But your agitated countenances and your heaving breasts inform 
me, that even this is not an unmixed joy. I perceive that a tumult of 
contending feelings rushes upon you. The images of the dead, as 
well as the persons of the living, throng to your embraces. The 
scene overwhelms you, and I turn from it. May the Father of all 
mercies smile upon your declining years, and bless them! And when 
you shall here have exchanged your embraces; when you shall once 
more have pressed the hands which have been so often extended to 
give succor in adversity, or grasped in the exultation of victory; then 
look abroad into this lovely land, which your young valor defended, 
and mark the happiness with which it is filled; yea, look abroad into 
the whole earth, and see what a name you have contributed to give to 
your country, and what a praise you have added to freedom, and then 
rejoice in the sympathy and gratitude which beam upon your last 
days from the improved condition of mankind. 

The occasion does npt require of me any particular account of the 
battle of the iyth of June, nor any detailed narrative of the events 
which immediately preceded it. These are familiarly known to all. 
In the progress of the great and interesting controversy, Massachu 
setts and the town of Boston had become early and marked objects of 
the displeasure of the British Parliament. This had been manifested, 
in the act for altering the government of the province, and in that for 
shutting up the port of Boston. Nothing sheds more honor on our 
early history, and nothing better shows how little the feelings and 
sentiments of the colonies were known or regarded in England, than 
the impression which these measures everywhere produced in America. 
It had been anticipated, that while the other colonies would be terri 
fied by the severity of the punishment inflicted on Massachusetts, the 
other seaports would be governed by a mere spirit of gain; and that, 
as Boston was now cut off from all commerce, the unexpected advan 
tage, which this blow on her was calculated to confer on other towns. 


would be greedily enjoyed. How miserably such reasoners deceived 
themselves! How little they knew of the depth, and the strength, 
and the intenseness of that feeling of resistance to illegal acts of 
power, which possessed the whole American people! Everywhere 
the unworthy boon was rejected with scorn. The fortunate occasion 
was seized, everywhere, to show to the whole world, that the colonies 
were swayed by no local interest, no partial interest, no selfish inter 
est. The temptation to profit by the punishment of Boston was 
strongest to our neighbors of Salem. Yet Salem was precisely the 
place where this miserable proffer was spurned, in a tone of the most 
lofty self-respect, and the most indignant patriotism. " We are 
deeply affected," said its inhabitants, " with the sense of our public 
calamities; but the miseries that are now rapidly hastening on our 
brethren in the capital of the province, greatly excite our commisera 
tion. By shutting up the port of Boston, some imagine that the 
course of trade might be turned hither and to our benefit. But we 
must be dead to every idea of justice, lost to all feelings of humanity, 
could we indulge a thought to seize on wealth, and raise our fortunes 
on the ruin of our suffering neighbors." These noble sentiments 
were not confined to our immediate vicinity. In that day of general 
affection and brotherhood, the blow given to Boston smote on every 
patriotic heart from one end of the country to the other. Virginia 
and the Carolinas, as well as Connecticut and New Hampshire, felt 
and proclaimed the cause to be their own. The continental Congress, 
then holding its first session in Philadelphia, expressed its sympathy 
for the suffering inhabitants of Boston; and addresses were received 
from all quarters, assuring them that the cause was a common one, 
and should be met by common efforts and common sacrifices. The 
Congress of Massachusetts responded to these assurances and in an 
address to the Congress at Philadelphia, bearing the official signature, 
perhaps among the last, of the immortal Warren, notwithstanding the 
severity of its suffering and the magnitude of the dangers which 
threatened it, it was declared, that this colo ny " is ready, at all 
times, to spend and to be spent in the cause of America." 

But the hour drew nigh, which was to put professions to the proof, 
and to determine whether the authors of these mutual pledges were 
ready to seal them in blood. The tidings of Lexington and Concord 
had no sooner spread, than it was universally felt that the time was at 
last come for action. A spirit pervaded all ranks, not transient, not 
boisterous, but deep, solemn, determined, 

41 totamqve infusa per art us 
Mens agltat violent, ct mag-no se corpore miscet" 

War, on their own soil and at their own doors, was, indeed, a strange 
work to the yeomanry of New England. But their consciences were 
convinced of its necessity, their country called them to it, and they 


did not withhold themselves from the perilous trial. The ordinary oc 
cupations of life were abandoned. The plough was stayed in the unfin 
ished furrow; wives gave up their husbands, and mothers gave up 
their sons, to the battles of a civil war. Death might come, in 
honor, on the field; it might come, in disgrace, on the scaffold. For 
either and for both they were prepared. The sentiment of Quincy 
was full in their hearts. " Blandishments," said that distinguished 
son of genius and patriotism, " will not fascinate us, nor will threats 
of a halter intimidate; for, under God, we are determined that where 
soever, whensoever, or howsoever we shall be called to make our exit, 
we will die free men." 

The iyth of June saw the four New England colonies standing here, 
side by side to triumph or to fall together; and there was with them, 
from that moment to the end of the war, what, I hope, will remain 
with them forever, one cause, one country, one heart. 

The battle of Bunker Hill was attended with the most important ef 
fects, beyond its immediate result as a military engagement. It cre 
ated, at once, a state of open, public war. There could now be no 
longer a question of proceeding against individuals as guilty of treason 
or rebellion. That fearful crisis was past. The appeal now lay to the 
sword and the only question was, whether the spirit and the re 
sources of the people would hold out, till the object should be accom 
plished. Nor were its general consequences confined to our own 
country. The previous proceedings of the colonies, their appeals, 
resolutions, and addresses, had made their cause known to Europe. 
Without boasting, we may say that, in no age or country, has the 
public cause been maintained with more force of argument, more 
power of illustration, or more of that persuasion which excited feeling 
and elevated principle can alone bestow, than the revolutionary state- 
papers exhibit. These papers will forever deserve to be studied, not 
only for the spirit which they breathe, but for the ability with which 
they were written. 

To this able vindication of their cause, the colonies had now added 
a practical and severe proof of their own true devotion to it, and 
evidence also of the power which they could bring to its support. 
All now saw, that, if America fell, she would not fall without a 
struggle. Men felt sympathy and regard, as well as surprise, when 
they beheld these infant states, remote, unknown, unaided, encounter 
the power of England, and, in the first considerable battle, leave more 
of their enemies dead on the field, in proportion to the number of 
combatants, than they had recently known in the wars of Europe. 

Information of these events circulating through Europe, at length 
reached the ears of one who now hears me. He has not forgotten the 
emotion which the fame of Bunker Hill and the name of Warren, 
excited in his youthful breast. 

Sir, we are assembled to commemorate the establishment of great 
A. P. 8. 


*. .. 

public principles of liberty, and to do honor to the distinguished dead. 
The occasion is too severe for eulogy to the living. But, sir, your in 
teresting relation to this country, the peculiar circumstances which 
surround you and surround us, call on me to express the happiness 
which we derive from your presence and aid in this solemn . com 

Fortunate, fortunate man ! with what measure of devotion will you 
not thank God for the circumstances of your extraordinary life ! You 
are connected with both hemispheres and with two generations. 
Heaven saw fit to ordain, that the electric spark of liberty should be 
conducted, through you, from the new world to the old; and we, who 
are now here to perform this duty of patriotism, have all of us long 
ago received it in charge from our fathers to cherish your name and 
your virtues. You will account it an instance of your good fortune, 
sir, that you crossed the seas to visit us at a time which enables you 
to be present at this solemnity. You now behold the field, the renown 
of which reached you in the heart of France, and caused a thrill in 
your ardent bosom. You see the lines of the little redoubt thrown up 
by the incredible diligence of Prescott; defended, to the last extremity, 
by his lion-hearted valor; and within which the corner-stone of our 
monument has now taken its position. You see where Warren fell, 
and where Parker, Gardner, McCleary, Moore, and other early 
patriots, fell with him. Those who survived that day, and whose 
lives have been prolonged to the present hour, are now around you. 
Some of them you have known in the trying scenes of the war. 
Behold ! they now stretch forth their feeble arms to embrace you. 
Behold ! they raise their trembling voices to invoke the blessing of 
God on you, and yours, forever. 

Sir, you have assisted us in laying the foundation of this edifice. 
You have heard us rehearse, with our feeble commendation, the 
names of departed patriots. Sir, monuments and eulogy belong to the 
dead. We give them, this day, to Warren and his associates. On 
other occasions, they have been given to your more immediate com 
panions in arms to Washington, to Greene, to Gates, Sullivan, and 
Lincoln. Sir, we have become reluctant to grant these, our highest 
and last honors, further. We would gladly hold them yet back from 
the little remnant of that immortal band. Sertis in ccelum redeas. 
Illustrious as are your merits, yet far, oh, very far distant be the day, 
when any inscription shall bear your name, or any tongue pronounce 
its eulogy ! 

The leading reflection to which this occasion seems to invite us, 
respects the great changes which have happened in the fifty years since 
the battle of Bunker Hill was fought. And it peculiarly marks the 
character of the present age, that, in looking at these changes, and in 
estimating their effect on our condition, we are obliged to consider, not 
what has been done in our own country only, but in others also. In 


these interesting times, while nations are making separate and in 
dividual advances in improvement, they make, too, a common pro 
gress; like vessels on a common tide, propelled by the gales at differ 
ent rates, according to their several structure and mangement, but all 
moved forward by one mighty current beneath, strong enough to bear 
onward whatever does not sink beneath it. 

A chief distinction of the present day is a community of opinions 
and knowledge amongst men, in different nations, existing in a degree 
heretofore unknown. Knowledge has, in our time, triumphed, and is 
triumphing, over distance, over difference of languages over diver 
sity of habits, over prejudice, and over bigotry. The civilized and 
Christian world is fast learning the great lesson, that difference of 
nation does not imply necessary hostility, and that all contact need 
not be war. The whole world is becoming a common field for intel 
lect to act in. Energy of mind, genius, power, wheresoever it exists, 
may speak out in any tongue, and the world will hear it. A great 
chord of sentiment and feeling runs through two continents, and 
vibrates over both. Every breeze wafts intelligence from country to 
country; every wave rolls it; all give it forth, and all in turn receive 
it. There is a vast commerce of ideas. There are marts and ex 
changes for intellectual discoveries, and a wonderful fellowship of 
those individual intelligences which make up the mind and opinion of 
the age. Mind is the great lever of all things; human thought is the 
process by which human ends are ultimately answered; and the 
diffusion of knowledge, so astonishing in the last half century, has 
rendered innumerable minds, variously gifted by nature, competent to 
be competitors, or fellow-workers, on the theatre of intellectual opera 

From these causes, important improvements have taken place in the 
personal condition of individuals. Generally speaking, mankind are 
not only better fed, and better clothed, but they are able also to enjoy 
more leisure; they possess more refinement and more self-respect. A 
superior tone of education, manners, and habits, prevails. This re 
mark, most true in its application to our own country, is also partlv 
true when applied elsewhere. It is proved by the vastly-augmented 
consumption of those articles of manufacture and of commerce which 
contribute to the comforts and the decencies of life; an augmentation 
which has far outrun the progress of population. And while the un 
exampled and almost incredible use of machinery would seem to sup 
ply the place of labor, labor still finds finds its occupation and its 
reward; so wisely has Providence adjusted men s wants *and desires 
to their condition and their capacity. 

Any adequate survey, however, of the progress made in the last 
half century in the polite and the mechanic arts, in machinery and 
manufactures, in commerce and agriculture, in letters and in science, 
would require volumes. I must abstain wholly from these subjects, 


and turn, for a moment, to the contemplation of what has been done 
on the great question of politics and government. This is the master 
topic of the age; and during the whole fifty years it has intensely oc 
cupied the thoughts of men. The nature of civil government, its ends 
and uses, have been canvassed and investigated; ancient opinions 
attacked and defended; new ideas recommended and resisted, by what 
ever power the mind of man could bring to the controversy. From 
the closet and the public halls, the debate has been transferred to the 
field; and the world has been shaken by wars of unexampled magni 
tude, and the greatest variety of fortune. A day of peace has at 
length succeeded: and now that the strife has subsided, and the smoke 
cleared away, we may begin to see what has actually been done, per 
manently changing the state and condition of human society. And 
without dwelling on particular circumstances, it is most apparent that, 
from the before-mentioned causes of augmented knowledge and im 
proved individual condition, a real, substantial, and important change 
has taken place, and is taking place, greatly beneficial, on the whole, 
to human liberty and human happiness. 

The great wheel of political revolution began to move -in America. 
Here its rotation was guarded, regular and safe. Transferred to 
the other continent, from unfortunate, but natural, causes, it re 
ceived an irregular and violent impulse; it whirled along with a fearful 
celerity, till at length, like the chariot-wheels in the races of antiquity, 
it took fire from the rapidity of its own motion, and blazed onward, 
spreading conflagration and terror around. 

We learn from the result of this experiment, how fortunate was our 
own condition, and how admirably the character of our people was 
calculated for making the great example of popular governments. 
The possession of power did not turn the heads of the American peo 
ple, for they had long been in the habit of exercising a great portion of 
self-control. Although the paramount authority of the parent state 
existed over them, yet a large field of legislation had always been 
open to our colonial assemblies. They were accustomed to repre 
sentative bodies and the forms of free government; they understood 
the doctrine of the division of power among different branches, and 
the necessity of checks on each. The character of our countrymen, 
moreover, was sober, moral, and religious; and there was little in the 
change to shock their feelings of justice and humanity, or even to dis 
turb an honest prejudice. We have no domestic throne to overturn, 
no privileged orders to cast down, no violent changes of property to 
encounter. In the American Revolution, no man sought or wished 
for more than to defend and enjoy his own. None hoped for plunder 
or for spoil. Rapacity was unknown to it; the axe was not among the 
instruments of its accomplishment; and we all know that it could not 
have lived a single day under any well-founded imputation of possess 
ing a tendency adverse to the Christian religion. 


It need not surprise us, that, under circumstances less suspicious, 
political revolutions elsewhere, even when well intended, have ter 
minated differently. It is, indeed, a great achievement it is the 
master-work of the world to establish governments entirely popular, 
on lasting foundations; nor is it easy, indeed, to introduce the popular 
principle at all into governments to which it has been altogether a 
stranger. It cannot be doubted, however, that Europe has come out of 
the contest in which she has been so long engaged, with greatly 
superior knowledge, and in many respects, a highly improved condi 
tion. Whatever benefit has been acquired, is likely to be retained, for 
it consists mainly in the acquisition of more enlightened ideas. And 
although kingdoms and provinces may be wrested from the hands that 
hold them, in the same manner they were obtained; although ordinary 
and vulgar power may, in human affairs, be lost as it has been won; 
yet it is the glorious prerogative of the empire of knowledge, that what 
it gains it never loses. On the contrary, it increases by the multiple 
of its own power; all its ends become means; all its attainmements, 
helps to new conquests. Its whole abundant harvest is but so much 
seed wheat, and nothing has ascertained, and nothing can ascertain, 
the amount of ultimate product. 

Under the influence of this rapidly-increasing knowledge, the peo 
ple have begun, in all forms of government, to think and to reason 
on affairs of state. Regarding government as an institution for the 
public good, they demand a knowledge of its operations, and a parti 
cipation in its exercise. A call for the representative system, wher 
ever it is not enjoyed, and where there is already intelligence enough 
to estimate its value, is perseveringly made. Where men may speak 
out, they demand it; where the bayonet is at their throats, they pray 
for ir. 

When Louis XIV. said, " I am the state," he expressed the essence 
of the doctrine of unlimited power. By the rules of that system, the 
people are disconnected from the state; they are its subjects, it is 
their lord. These ideas, founded in the love of power, and long sup 
ported by the excess and the abuse of it, are yielding, in our age, to 
other opinions ; and the civilized world seems at last to be proceeding 
to the conviction of that fundamental and manifest truth, that the 
powers of government are but a trust, and that they cannot be law 
fully exercised but for the good of the community. As knowledge is 
more and more extended, this conviction becomes more and more 
general. Knowledge, in truth, is the great sun in the firmament. 
Life and power are scattered with all its beams. The prayer of the 
Grecian combatant, when enveloped in unnatural clouds and dark 
ness, is the appropriate political supplication for the people of every 
countiy not yet blessed with free institutions : 

" Dispel this cloud ; the light of heaven restore ; 
Give me to see and Ajax asks no more." 


We may hope that the growing influence of enlightened sentiments 
will promote the permanent peace of the world. Wars, to maintain 
family alliances, to uphold or to cast down dynasties, to _ regulate suc 
cessions to thrones, which have occupied so much room in the history 
of modern times, if not less likely to happen at all, will be less likely 
to become general, and involve many nations, as the great principle 
shall be more and more established, that the interest of the world is 
peace, and its first great statute, that every nation possesses the power 
of establishing a government for itself. But public opinion has at 
tained also an influence over governments which do not admit the 
popular principle into their organization. A necessary respect for the 
judgment of the world operates, in some measure, as a control over 
the most unlimited forms of authority. It is owing, perhaps, to this 
truth, that the interesting struggle of the Greeks has been suffered to 
go on so long, without a direct interference, either to wrest that coun 
try from its present masters, and add it to other powers, or to execute 
the system of pacification by force; and, with united strength, lay the 
neck of Christian and civilized Greece at the foot of the barbarian 
Turk. Let us thank God that we live in an age when something has 
influence besides the bayonet, and when the sternest authority does 
not venture to encounter the scorching power of public reproach. 
Any attempt of the kind I have mentioned, should be met by one uni 
versal burst of indignation; the air of the civilized world ought to be 
made too warm to be comfortably breathed by any who would hazard 

It is, indeed, a touching reflection, that while, in the fulness of our 
country s happiness, we rear this monument to her honor, we look for 
instruction in our undertaking to a country which is now in fearful 
contest, not for works of art or memorials of glory, but for her own 
existence. Let her be assured that she is not forgotten in the world ; 
that her efforts are applauded, and that constant prayers ascend for 
her success. And let us cherish a confident hope for her final triumph. 
If the true spark of religious and civil liberty be kindled, it will burn. 
Human agency cannot extinguish it. Like the earth s central fire, it 
may be smothered for a time ; the ocean may overwhelm it : moun 
tains may press it down ; but its inherent and unconquerable force 
will heave both the ocean and the land, and at some time or another, 
in some place or another, the volcano will break out and flame up to 

Among the great events of the half century, we must reckon, cer 
tainly, the revolution of South America ; and we are not likely to 
overrate the importance of that revolution, either to the people of the 
country itself, or to the rest of the world. The late Spanish colonies, 
now independent states, under circumstances less favorable, doubt 
less, than attended our own revolution, have yet successfully com 
menced their national existence. They have accomplished the great 


object of establishing their independence ; they are known and ac 
knowledged in the world ; and although, in regard to their systems of 
government, their sentiments on religious toleration, and their provi 
sions for public instruction, they may have yet much to learn, it must 
be admitted that they have risen to the condition of settled and estab 
lished states more rapidly than could have been reasonably antici 
pated. They already furnish an exhilarating example of the differ 
ence between free governments and despotic misrule. Their 
commerce, at this moment, creates a new activity in all the great 
marts of the world. They show themselves able, by an exchange of 
commodities, to bear a useful part in the intercourse of nations. A 
new spirit of enterprise and industry begins to prevail ; all the great 
interests of society receive a salutary impulse ; and the progress of 
information not only testifies to an improved condition, but consti 
tutes, itself, the highest and most essential improvement. 

When the battle of Bunker Hill was fought, the existence of South 
America was scarcely felt in the civilized world. The thirteen little 
colonies of North America habitually called themselves the "Conti 
nent." Borne down by colonial subjugation, monopoly, and bigotry, 
these vast regions of the south were hardly visible above the horizon. 
But, in our day, there hath been, as it were, a new creation. The 
southern hemisphere emerges from the sea. Its lofty mountains be 
gin to lift themselves into the light of heaven ; its broad and fertile 
plains stretch out in beauty to the eye of civilized man, and, at the 
mighty being of the voice of political liberty, the waters of darkness 

And, now, let us indulge an honest exultation in the conviction of 
the benefit which the example of our country has produced, and is 
likely to produce, on human freedom and human happiness. And let 
us endeavor to comprehend, in all its magnitude, and to feel, in all its 
importance, the part assigned to us in the great drama of human af 
fairs. We are placed at the head of the system of representative and 
popular governments. Thus far, our example shows that such gov 
ernments are compatible, not only with respectability and power, but 
with repose, with peace, with security of personal rights, with good 
laws, and a just administration. 

We are not propagandists. Wherever other systems are preferred, 
either as being thought better in themselves, or as better suited to ex 
isting condition, we leave the preference to be enjoyed. Our history 
hitherto proves, however, that the popular form is practicable, and 
that, with wisdom and knowledge, men may govern themselves; and 
the duty incumbent on us is, to preserve the consistency of this cheer 
ing example, and take care that nothing may weaken its authority 
with the world. If, in our case, the representative system ultimately 
fail, popular governments must be pronounced impossible. No com 
bination of circumstances more favorable to the experiment can ever 


be expected to occur. The last hopes of mankind, therefore, rest 
with us; and if it should be proclaimed that our example had become 
an argument against the experiment, the knell of popular liberty would 
be sounded throughout the earth. 

These are excitements to duty; but they are not suggestions of 
doubt. Our history and our condition, all that is gone before us, and 
all that surrounds us; authorize the belief, that popular governments, 
though subject to occasional variations, perhaps not always for the 
better, in form, may yet, in their general character, be as durable and 
permanent as other systems. We know, indeed, that, in our coun 
try, any other is impossible. The principle of free governments ad 
heres to the American soil. It is bedded in it immovable as its 

And let the sacred obligations which have devolved on this genera 
tion, and on us, sink deep into our hearts. Those are daily dropping 
from among us, who established our liberty and our government. The 
great trust now descends to new hands. Let us apply ourselves to 
that which is presented to us, as our appropriate object. We can win 
no laurels in a war for independence. Earlier and worthier hands 
have gathered them all. Nor are there places for us by the side of 
Solon, and Alfred, and other founders of states. Our fathers have 
filled them. But there remains to us a great duty of defence and pre 
servation; and there is opened to us, also, a noble pursuit, to which 
the spirit of the times strongly invites us. Our proper business is 
improvement. Let our age be the age of improvement. In a day of 
peace, let us advance the arts of peace and the works of peace. Let 
us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up 
its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we 
also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy 
to be remembered. Let us cultivate a true spirit of union and har 
mony. In pursuing the great objects which our condition points out 
to us, let us act under a settled conviction, and an habitual feeling, that 
these twenty-four states are one country. Let our conceptions be en 
larged to the circle of our duties. Let us extend our ideas over the 
whole of the vast field in which we are called to act. Let our objec 
be, our country, our whole country, and nothing but our country. 
And, by the blessing of God, may that country itself become a vabt 
and splendid monument, not of oppression and terror, but of wisdom, 
of peace, and of liberty, upon which the world may gaze, with admi 
ration, forever. 



The Senate, January 26, 1830. 

Mr. Webster addressed the Senate as follows : 

Mr. PRESIDENT : When the mariner has been tossed, for many days, 
in thick weather, and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself 
of the first pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take 
his latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from 
his true course. Let us imitate this prudence, and before we float 
farther, refer to the point from which we departed, that we may at 
least be able to conjecture where we now are. I ask for the reading 
of the resolution. 

[The secretary read the resolution, as follows : 

"Resolved, That the committee on public lands be instructed to 
inquire and report the quantity of the public lands remaining unsold 
within each state and territory, and whether it be expedient to limit, 
for a certain period, the sales of the public lands to such lands only as 
have heretofore been offered for sale, and are now subject to entry at 
the minimum price. And, also, whether the office of surveyor gene 
ral, and some of the land offices, may not be abolished without detri 
ment to the public interest ; or whether it be expedient to adopt 
measures to hasten the sales, and extend more rapidly the surveys of 
the public lands."] 

We have thus heard, sir, what the resolution is, which is actually 
before us for consideration ; and it will readily occur to every one 
that it is almost the only subject about which something has not 
been said in the speech, running through two days, by which the 
Senate has been now entertained by the gentleman from South Caro 
lina. Every topic in the wide range of our public affairs, whether 
past or present, everything, general or local, whether belong 
ing to national politics or party politics, seems to have attracted 
more or less of the honorable member s attention, save only the reso 
lution before us. He has spoken of everything but the public lands. 
They have escaped his notice. To that subject, in all his excursions, 
he has not paid even the cold respect of a passing glance. 

When this debate, sir, was to be resumed, on Thursday morning, it 
so happened that it would have been convenient for me to be else 
where. The honorable member, however, did not incline to put off 
the discussion to another day. He had a shot, he said, to return, and 
he wished to discharge it. That shot, sir, which it was kind thus to 
inform us was coming, that we might stand out of the way, or 
prepare ourselves to fall before it, and die with decency, has now 


been received. Under all advantages, and with expectation awakened 
by the tone which preceded it, it has been discharged, and has 
spent its force. It may become me to say no more of its effect than 
that, if nobody is found, after all, either killed or wounded by it, it is 
not the first time in the history of human affairs that the vigor and 
success of the war have not quite come up to the lofty and sounding 
phrase of the manifesto. 

The gentleman, sir, in declining to postpone the debate, told the 
Senate with the emphasis of his hand upon his heart, that there was 
something rankling here, which he wished to relieve. [Mr. Hayne 
rose and disclaimed having used the word rankling.] It would not, 
Mr. President, be safe for the honorable member to appeal to those 
around him, upon the question whether he did, in fact, make use of 
that word. But he may have been unconscious of it. At any rate, it 
is enough that he disclaims it. But still, with or without the use of 
that particular word, he had yet something here, he said of which he 
wished to rid himself by an immediate reply. In this respect, sir, I 
have a great advantage over the honorable gentleman. There is 
nothing here, sir, which gives me the slightest uneasiness ; neither 
fear, nor anger, nor that which is sometimes more troublesome than 
either, the consciousness of having been in the wrong. There is 
nothing either originating here, or now received here by the gentle 
man s shot. Nothing original, for I had not the slightest feeling of 
disrespect or unkindness towards the honorable member. Some 
passages, it is true, had occurred, since our acquaintance in this body, 
which I could have wished might have been otherwise ; but I had 
used philosophy, and forgotten them. When the honorable member 
rose, in his first speech, I paid him the respect of attentive listening; 
and when he sat down, though surprised, and I must say even aston 
ished, at some of his opinions, nothing was farther from my intention 
than to commence any personal warfare ; and through the whole of 
the few remarks I made in answer, I avoided, studiously and care 
fully, everything which I thought possible to be construed into dis 
respect. And, sir, while there is thus nothing originating here, which 
I wished at any time, or now wish, to discharge, I must repeat, also, 
that nothing has been received here, which rankles, or in any way 
gives me annoyance. I will not accuse the honorable member of 
violating the rules of civilized war I will not say that he poisoned 
his arrows. But whether his shafts were, or were not, dipped in that 
which would have caused rankling if they had reached, there was not, 
as it happended, quite strength enough in the bow to bring them to 
their mark. If he wishes now to find those shafts, he must look for 
them elsewhere ; they will not be found fixed and quivering in the 
object at which they were aimed. 

The honorable member complained that I had slept on his speech, 
I must have slept on it, or not slept at all. The moment the honor- 


able member sat down, his friend from Missouri rose, and, with 
much honeyed commendation of the speech, suggested that the 
impressions which it had produced were too charming and delightful 
to be disturbed by other sentiments or other sounds, and proposed 
that the Senate should adjourn. Would it have been quite amiable in 
me, sir, to interrupt this excellent good-feeling? Must I not have 
been absolutely malicious, if I could have thrust myself forward to 
destroy sensations thus pleasing ? Was it not much better and kinder, 
both to sleep upon them myself, and tojallow others, also, the pleasure 
of sleeping upon them ? But if it be meant, by sleeping upon his 
speech, that I took time to prepare a reply to it, it is quite a mistake : 
owing to other engagements, I could not employ even the interval 
between the adjournment of the Senate and its meeting the next 
morning in attention to the subject of this debate. Nevertheless, sir, 
the mere matter of fact is undoubtedly true I did sleep on the gentle 
man s speech, and slept soundly. And I slept equally well on his 
speech of yesterday, to which I am now replying. It is quite pos 
sible that, in this respect also, I possess some advantage over the 
honorable member, attributable, doubtless, to a cooler temperament 
on my part ; for in truth I slept upon his speeches remarkably well. 
But the gentleman inquires why he was made the object of such a 
reply. Why was he singled out ? If an attack had been made on the 
east, he, he assures us, did not begin it it was the gentleman from 
Missouri. Sir, I answered the gentleman s speech because I happened 
to hear it ; and because, also, I chose to give an answer to that 
speech, which, if unanswered, I thought most likely to produce 
injurious impressions. I did not stop to inquire who was the original 
drawer of the bill. I found a reponsible indorser before me, and it 
was my purpose to hold him liable, and to bring him to his just 
responsibility without delay. But, sir, this interrogatory of the hon 
orable member was only introductory to another. He proceeded to 
ask me whether I had turned upon him in this debate from 
consciousness that I should find an overmatch if I ventured on a con 
test with his friend from Missouri. If, sir, the honorable member, ex 
gratia modestia, had chosen thus to defer to his friend, and to pay him 
a compliment, without intentional disparagement to others, it would 
have been quite according to the friendly courtesies of debate, and 
not at all ungrateful to my own feelings. I am not one of those, sir, 
who esteem any tribute of regard, whether light and occasional, or 
more serious and deliberate, which may be bestowed on others as so 
much unjustly withholden from themselves. But the tone and man 
ner of the gentleman s question forbid me thus to interpret it. I am 
not at liberty to consider it as nothing more than a civility to his 
friend. It had an air of taunt and disparagement, a little of the lofti 
ness of asserted superiority, which does not allow me to pass it over 
without notice. It was put as a question for me to answer, and so 


put as if it were difficult for me to answer, whether I deemed the 
member from Missouri an overmatch for myself in debate here. 
It seems to me, sir, that is extraordinary language, and an extraordi 
nary tone for the discussions of this body. 

Matches and overmatches ! Those terms are more applicable else 
where than here, and fitter for other assemblies than this. Sir, the gen 
tleman seems to forget where and what we are. This is a senate; a 
senate of equals; of men of individual honor and personal character, 
and of absolute independence. We know no masters; we acknowledge 
no dictators. This is a hall for mutual consultation and discussion, not 
an arena for the exhibition of champions. I offer myself, sir, as a match 
for no man; I throw the challenge of debate at no man s feet. But, 
then, sir, since the honorable member has put the question in a man 
ner that calls for an answer, I will give him an answer; and I tell him 
that, holding myself to be the humblest of the members here, I yet know 
nothing in the arm of his friend from Missouri, either alone or when 
aided by the arm of his friend from South Carolina, that need deter 
even me from espousing whatever opinions I may choose to espouse, 
from debating whenever I may choose to debate, or from speaking 
whatever I may see fit to say on the floor of the Senate. Sir, when 
uttered as matter of commendation or compliment, I should dissent 
from nothing which the honorable member might say of his friend. 
Still less do I put forth any pretensions of my own. But when put to 
me as matter of taunt, I throw it back, and say to the gentleman that 
he could possibly say nothing less likely than such a comparison to 
wound my pride of personal character. The anger of its tone rescued 
the remark from intentional irony, which, otherwise, probably, would 
have been its general acceptation. But, sir, if it be imagined that by 
this mutual quotation and commendation; if it be supposed that, by 
casting the characters of the drama, assigning to each his part, 
to one the attack, to another the cry of onset, or if it be thought that 
by a loud and empty vaunt of anticipated victory any laurels are to be 
won here; if it be imagined, especially, that any or all these things will 
shake any purpose of mine, I can tell the honorable member, once for 
all, that he is greatly mistaken, and that he is dealing with one of 
whose temper and character he has yet much to learn. Sir, I shall not 
allow myself, on this occasion, I hope on no occasion, to be be 
trayed into any loss of temper; but if provoked, as I trust I never 
shall allow myself to be, into crimination and recrimination, the hon 
orable member may, perhaps, find that in that contest there will be 
blows to take as well as blows to give; that others can state compari 
sons as significant, at least, as his own; and that his impunity may, 
perhaps, demand of him whatever powers of taunt and sarcasm he may 
possess. I commend him to a prudent husbandry of his resources. 

But, sir, the coalition! The coalition! Ay, "the murdered coali 
tion!" The gentleman asks if I were led or frighted into this debate 


by the spectre of the coalition. " Was it the ghost of the murdered 
coalition," he exclaims, "which haunted the member from Massachu 
setts, and which, like the ghost of Banquo, would never down ?" 
"The murdered coalition!" Sir, this charge of a coalition, in refer 
ence to the late administration, is not original with the honorable 
member. It did not spring up in the Senate. Whether as a fact, as 
an argument, or as an embellishment, it is all borrowed. He adopts it, 
indeed, from a very low origin, and a still lower present condition. It 
is one of the thousand calumnies with which the press teemed during 
an excited political canvass. It was a charge of which there was not 
only no proof or probability, but which was, in itself, wholly impossi 
ble to be true. No man of common information ever believed a sylla 
ble of it. Yet it was of that class of falsehoods which, by continued rep 
etition through all the organs of detraction and abuse, are capable of 
misleading those who are already far misled, and of further fanning 
passion already kindling into flame. Doubtless it served its day, and, 
in a greater or less degree, the end designed by it. Having done that, 
it has sunk into the general mass of stale and loathed calumnies. It 
is the very cast-off slough of a polluted and shameless press. Incapa 
ble of further mischief, it lies in the sewer, lifeless and despised. It is 
not now, sir, in the power of the honorable member to give it dignity 
or decency, by attempting to elevate it, and to introduce it into the 
Senate. He cannot change it from what it is an object of general 
disgust and scorn. On the contrary, the contact, if he choose to touch 
it, is more likely to drag him down, down, to the place where it lies it 

But, sir, the honorable member was not, for other reasons, entirely 
happy in his allusion to the story of Banquo s murder and Banquo s 
ghost. It was not, I think, the friends, but the enemies of the mur 
dered Banquo, at whose bidding his spirit would not down. The 
honorable gentleman is fresh in his reading of the English classics, and 
can put me right if I am wrong; but according to my poor recollection, 
it was at those who had begun with caresses, and ended with foul and 
treacherous murder, that the gory locks w r ere shaken. The ghost of 
Banquo, like that of Hamlet, was an honest ghost. It disturbed no 
innocent man. It knew where its appearance would strike terror, and 
who would cry out, A ghost! It made itself visible in the right quarter, 
and compelled the guilty, and the conscience-smitten, and none others, 
to start, with, 

11 Prithee, see there ! behold ! look ! lo ! 
If I stand here, I saw him !" 

Their eyeballs were seared was it not so, sir? who had thought to 
shield themselves by concealing their own hand, and laying the impu 
tation of the crime on a low and hireling agency in wickedness; who 
had vainly attempted to stifle the workings of their own coward con- 


sciences; by ejaculating, through white lips and chattering teeth, 
" Thou canst not say I did it!" I have misread the great poet, if it 
\vas those who had no way partaken in the deed of the death, who 
either found that they were, or feared that they should be, pushed from 
their stools by the ghost of the slain, or who cried out to a spectre 
created by their own fears, and their own remorse, " A vaunt ! and 
quit our sight!" 

There is another particular, sir, in which the honorable member s 
quick perception of resemblances might, I should think, have seen some 
thing in the story of Banquo, making it not altogether a subject of the 
most pleasant contemplation. Those who murdered Banquo, what 
did they win by it? Substantial good ? Permanent power ? Or dis 
appointment, rather, and sore mortification dust and ashes the 
common fate of vaulting ambition overleaping itself? Did not even- 
handed justice, ere long, commend the poisoned chalice to their own 
lips ? Did they not soon find that for another they had " filled their 
mind?" that their ambition, though apparently for the moment suc 
cessful, had but put a barren sceptre in their grasp ? Ay, sir, 

" A barren sceptre in their gripe, 
Thence to be wrenched by an unlineal hand, 
No son of theirs succeeding." 

Sir, I need pursue the allusion no further. I leave the honorable 
gentleman to run it out at his leisure, and to derive from it all the 
gratification it is calculated to administer. If he finds himself pleased 
with the associations, and prepared to be quite satisfied, though the 
parallel should be entirely completed, I had almost said I am satisfied 
also but that I shall think of. Yes, sir, I will think of that. 

In the course of my observations the other day, Mr. President, I 
paid a passing tribute of respect to a very worthy man, Mr. Dane, of 
Massachusetts. It so happened, that he drew the ordinance of 17^7 
for the government of the North-western Territory. A man of so 
much ability, and so little pretence; of so great a capacity to do good, 
and so unmixed a disposition to do it for its own sake; a gentleman 
who acted an important part, forty years ago, in a measure the in 
fluence of which is still deeply felt in the very matter which was the 
subject of debate, might, I thought, receive from me a commendatory 

But the honorable member was inclined to be facetious on the sub 
ject. He was rather disposed to make it matter of ridicule that I had 
introduced into the debate the name of one Natfcan Dane, of whom he 
assures us he had never before heard. Sir, if the honorable member 
had never before heard of Mr. Dane, I am sorry for it. It shows 
him less acquainted \vith the public men of the country than I had sup 
posed. Let me tell him, however, that a sneer from him at the men 
tion of the name of Mr. Dane is in bad taste. It may well be a high 


mark of ambition, sir, either with the honorable gentleman or myself, 
t > accomplish as much to make our names known to advantage, and 
remembered with gratitude, as Mr. Dane has accomplished. But the 
truth is, sir, I suspect that Mr. Dane lives a little too far north. He is 
of Massachusetts, and too near the north star to be reached by the 
honorable gentleman s telescope. If his sphere had happened to 
range south of Mason and Dixon s line, he might, probably, have 
come within the scope of his vision! 

I spoke, sir, of the ordinance of 1787, which prohibited slavery in all 
future t : mes north-west of the Ohio, as a measure of great wisdom and 
foresignt, and one which had been attended with highly beneficial and 
permanent consequences. I supposed that on this point no two gen 
tlemen in the Senate could entertain different opinions. But the 
simple expression of this sentiment has led the gentleman, not only 
into a labored defence of slavery in the abstract, and on principle, 
but also into a warm accusation against me, as having attacked the 
system of domestic slavery now existing in the Southern States. For 
all this there was not the slightest foundation in any thing said or inti 
mated by me. I did not utter a single word which any ingenuity 
could torture into an attack on the slavery of the south. I said only 
that it was highly wise and useful in legislating for the north-western 
country, while it was yet a wilderness, to prohibit the introduction of 
slaves; and added, that I presumed, in the neighboring state of Ken 
tucky, there was no reflecting and intelligent gentleman who would 
doubt that, if the same prohibition had been extended, at the same 
early period, over that commonwealth, her strength and population 
would at this day, have been far greater than they are. If these opin 
ions be thought doubtful, they are, nevertheless, I trust, neither extra 
ordinary, nor disrespectful. They attack nobody and menace nobody. 
And yet, sir, the gentleman s optics have discovered, even in the mere 
expression of this sentiment, what he calls the very spirit of the Mis 
souri question! He represents me as making an onset on the whole 
south, and manifesting a spirit which would interfere with and disturb 
their domestic condition. Sir, this injustice no otherwise surprises me 
than as it is done here, and done without the slightest pretence of ground 
for it. I say it only surprises me as being done here; for I know full 
well that it is and has been the settled policy of some persons in the 
south, for years, to represent the people of the north as disposed to 
interfere with them in their own exclusive and peculiar concerns. This 
is a delicate and sensitive point in southern feeling, and of late years 
it has always been touched, and generally with effect, whenever the 
object has been to unite the whole south against northern men or nor 
thern measures. This feeling, always carefully kept alive, and main 
tained at too intense a heat to admit discrimination or reflection, is a 
lever of great power in our political machine. It moves vast bodies, 
and gives to them one and the same direction. But the feeling is with- 


out adequate cause, and the suspicion which exists wholly groundless. 
There is not, and never has been, a disposition in the north to inter 
fere with these interests of the south. Such interference has never 
been supposed to be within the power of government, nor has it been 
in any way attempted. It has always been regarded as a matter of do 
mestic policy, left with the states themselves, and with which the federal 
government had nothing to do. Certainly, sir, I am, and ever have 
been, of that opinion. The gentleman, indeed, argues that slavery in 
the abstract is no evil. Most assuredly I need not say I differ with 
him altogether and most widely on that point. I regard domestic 
slavery as one of the greatest of evils, both moral and political. But, 
though it be a malady, and whether it be curable, and if so, by what 
means; or, on the other hand, whether it be the vulnus immcdicabile of 
the social system, I leave it to those whose right and duty it is to in 
quire and to decide. And this I believe, sir, is, and uniformly has 
been, the sentiment of the north. Let us look a little at the history of 
this matter. 

When the present constitution was submitted for the ratification of 
the people, there were those who imagined that the powers of the gov 
ernment which it proposed to establish might, perhaps, in some possi 
ble mode, be exerted in measures tending to the abolition of slavery. 
This suggestion would, of course, attract much attention in the south 
ern conventions. In that of Virginia, Governor Randolph said, 

" I hope there is none here, who, considering the subject in the 
calm light of philosophy, will make an objection dishonorable to Vir 
ginia that, at the moment they are securing the rights of their citizens, 
an objection is started, that there is a spark of hope that those unfortu 
nate men now held in bondage may, by the operation of the general 
government, be made free." 

At the very first Congress petitions on the subject were presented, 
if I mistake not, from different states. The Pennsylvania Society for 
Promoting the Abolition of Slavery took a lead, and laid before Con 
gress a memorial, praying Congress to promote the abolition by such 
powers as it possessed. This memorial was referred, in the House of 
Representatives, to a select committee, consisting of Mr. Foster, of 
New Hampshire, Mr. Gerry, of Massachusetts, Mr. Hunting-ton, of 
Connecticut, Mr. Lawrence, of New York, Mr. Sinnickson, of New- 
Jersey, Mr. Hartley, of Pennsylvania, and Mr. Parker, of Virginia; 
all of them, sir, as you will observe, northern men, but the last. This 
committee made a report, which was committed to a committee of the 
whole house, and there considered and discussed on several days; and 
being amended, although in no material respect, it was made to ex 
press three distinct propositions on the subjects of slavery and the 
slave trade. First, in the words of the constitution, that Congress 
could not, prior to the year iSoS, prohibit the migration or importa 
tion of such persons as any of the states then existing should thinK 


proper to admit. Second, that Congress had authority to restrain the 
citizens of the United States from carrying on the African slave trade 
for the purpose of supplying foreign countries. On this proposition, 
our early laws against those who engage in that traffic are founded. 
The third proposition, and that which bears on the present question, 
was expressed in the following terms: 

" Resolved, That Congress have no authority to interfere in the 
emancipation of slaves, or in the treatment of them in any of the 
states; it remaining with the.several states alone to provide rules and 
regulations therein, which humanity and true policy may require." 

This resolution received the sanction of the House of Representa 
tives so early as March, 1790. And, now, sir, the honorable member 
will allow me to remind him, that not only were the select committee 
who reported the resolution, with a single exception, all northern men, 
but also that of the members then composing the House of Representa 
tives, a large majority k I believe nearly two thirds, y/ere northern men 

The house agreed to insert these resolutions in its journal ; and, from 
that day to this, it has never been maintained or contended that Con 
gress had any authority to regulate or interfere with the condition of 
slaves in the several states. No northern gentleman, to my knowl 
edge, has moved any such question in either house of Congress. 

The fears of the south, whatever fears they might have entertained, 
were allayed and quieted by this early decision ; and so remained, till 
they were excited afresh, without cause, but for collateral and in 
direct purposes. When it became necessary, or was thought so, by 
some political persons, to find an unvarying ground for the exclusion 
of northern men from confidence and from lead in the affairs of the 
republic, then, and not till then, the cry was raised, and the feeling 
industriously excited, that the influence of northern men in the public 
councils would endanger the relation of master and slave. For my 
self, I claim no other merit, than that this gross and enormous injus 
tice towards the whole north has not wrought upon me to change my 
opinions, or my political conduct. I hope I am above violating my 
principles, even under the smart of injury and false imputations. Un 
just suspicions and undeserved reproach, whatever pain I may experi 
ence from them, will not induce me, I trust, nevertheless, to overstep 
the limits of constitutional duty, or to encroach on the rights of others. 
The domestic slavery of the south I leave where I find it in the 
hands of their own governments. It is their affair, not mine. Nor 
do I complain of the peculiar effect which the magnitude of that popu 
lation has had in the distribution of power under this federal govern 
ment. We know, sir, that the representation of the states in the 
other house is not equal. We know that great advantage, in that res 
pect, is enjoyed by the slaveholding states; and we know, too, that 
the intended equivalent for that advantage that is to say, the imposi- 


tion of direct taxes in the same ratio has become merely nominal ; 
the habit of the government being almost invariably to collect its reve 
nues from other sources, and in other modes. Nevertheless, I do 
not complain ; nor would I countenance any movement to alter this 
arrangement of representation. It is the original bargain, the com 
pact let it stand ; let the advantage of it be fully enjoyed. The 
Union itself is too full of benefit to be hazarded in propositions for 
changing its original basis. I go for the constitution as it is, and for 
the Union as it is. But I am resolved not to submit, in silence, to 
accusations, either against myself individually, or against the north, 
wholly unfounded and unjust accusations which impute to us a dis 
position to evade the constitutional compact, and to extend the power 
of the government over the internal laws and domestic condition of 
the states. All such accusations, wherever and whenever made, all 
insinuations of the existence of any such purposes, I know and feel to 
be groundless and injurious. And we must confide in southern gentle 
men themselves; we must trust to those whose integrity of heart and 
magnanimity of feeling will lead them to a desire to maintain and dis 
seminate truth, and who possess the means of its diffusion with the 
southern public; we must leave it to them to disabuse that public of its 
prejudices. But, in the mean time, for my own part, I shall continue 
to act justly, whether those towards whom justice is exercised receive 
it with candor or with contumely. 

Having had occasion to recur to the ordinance of 1787, in order to 
defend myself against the inferences which the honorable member has 
chosen to draw from my former observations on that subject, I am 
not willing now entirely to take leave of it without another remark. 
It need hardly be said, that that paper expresses just sentiments on 
the great subject of civil and religious liberty. Such sentiments were 
common, and abound in all our state papers of that day. But this 
ordinance did that which was not so common, and which is not, even 
now, universal; that is, it set forth and declared, as a high and binding 
duty of government itself, to encourage schools and advance the means 
of education; on the plain reason that religion, morality, and knowl 
edge are necessary to good government, and to the happiness of man 
kind. One observation further. The important provision incor 
porated into the constitution of the United States, and several of those 
of the states, and recently, as we have seen, adopted into the reformed 
constitution of Virginia, restraining legislative power, in questions of 
private right, and from impairing the obligation of contracts, is first 
introduced and established, as far as I am informed, as matter of ex 
press written constitutional law, in this ordinance of 1787. And I 
must add, also, in regard to the author of the ordinance, who has not 
had the happiness to attract the gentleman s notice heretofore, nor to 
avoid his sarcasm now, that he was chairman of that select committee 
of the old Congress, whose report first expressed the strong sense of 


that body, that the old confederation was not adequate to the exigen 
cies of the country, and recommending to the states to send delegates 
to the convention which formed the present constitution. 

An attempt has been made to transfer from the north to the south 
the honor of this exclusion of slavery from the North-western Terri 
tory. The journal, without argument or comment, refutes such attempt. 
The session of Virginia was made March, 1784. On the igth of April 
following, a committee, consisting of Messrs. Jefferson, Chase, and 
Howell, reported a plan for a temporary government of the territory, 
in which was this article: "That after the year 1800, there shall be 
neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, in any of the said states, 
otherwise than in punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have 
been convicted." Mr. Speight, of North Carolina, moved to strike 
out this paragraph. The question was put, according to the form 
then practised: "Shall these words stand, as part of the plan," &c. 
New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New 
York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania seven states voted in the 
affirmative ; Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina in the negative. 
North Carolina was divided. As the consent of nine states was nec 
essary, the words could not stand, and were struck out accordingly. 
Mr. Jefferson voted for the clause, but was overruled by his colleagues. 

In March of the next year (1785), Mr. King, of Massachusetts, sec 
onded by Mr. Ellery, of Rhode Island, proposed the formerly rejected 
article, with this addition: "And that this regulation shall be an 
article of compact, and remain a fundamental principle of the con 
stitution between the thirteen original states and each of the states 
described in the resolve," &c. On this clause, which provided the 
adequate and thorough security, the eight Northern States, at that 
time, voted affirmatively, and the four Southern States negatively. 
The votes of nine states were not yet obtained, and thus the provision 
was again rejected by the Southern States. The perseverance of the 
north held out, and two years afterwards the object was attained. It 
is no derogation from the credit, whatever that may be, of drawing 
the ordinance, that its principles had before been prepared and dis 
cussed in the form of resolutions. If one should reason in that way, 
what would become of the distinguished honor of the author of the 
Declaration of Independence? There is not a sentiment in that paper 
which had not been voted and resolved in the assemblies, and other 
popular bodies in the country, over and over again. 

But the honorable member has now found out that this gentleman, 
Mr. Dane, was a member of the Hartford Convention. However unin 
formed the honorable member may be of characters and occurrences 
at the north, it would seem that he has at his elbows, on this occasion, 
some high-minded and lofty spirit, some magnanimous and true- 
hearted monitor, possessing the means of local knowledge, and ready 
to supply the honorable member with every thing, down even to for- 


gotten and moth-eaten twopenny pamphlets, which may be used to 
the disadvantage of his own country. But, as to the Hartford Con 
vention, sir, allow me to say, that the proceedings of that body seem 
now to be less read and studied in New England than farther south. 
They appear to be looked to, not in New England, but elsewhere, for 
the purpose of seeing how far they may serve as a precedent. But 
they will not answer the purpose they are quite too tame. The lati 
tude in which they originated was too cold. Other conventions, of 
more recent existence, have gone a whole bar s length beyond it. The 
learned doctors of Colleton and Abbeville have pushed their commen 
taries on the Hartford collect so far that the original text writers arc 
thrown entirely into the shade. I have nothing to do, sir, with the 
Hartford Convention. Its journal, which the gentleman has quoted, I 
have never read. So far as the honorable member may discover in its 
proceedings a spirit in any degree resembling that which was avowed 
and justified in those other conventions to which I have alluded, or so 
far as those proceedings can be shown to be disloyal to the constitu 
tion, or tending to disunion, so far I shall be as ready as any one to 
bestow on them reprehension and censure. 

Having dwelt long on this convention, and other occurrences of 
that day, in the hope, probably (which will not be gratified), that I 
should leave the course of this debate to follow him at length in those 
excursions, the honorable member returned, and attempted another 
object. He referred to a speech of mine in the other house, the same 
which I had occasion to allude to myself the other day; and has quoted 
a passage or two from it, with a bold though uneasy and laboring air 
of confidence, as if he had detected in me an inconsistency. Judging 
from the gentleman s manner, a stranger to the course of the debate, 
and to the point in discussion, would have imagined, from so trium 
phant a tone, that the honorable member was about to overwhelm me 
with a manifest contradiction. Any one who heard him, and who had 
not heard what I had, in fact, previously said, must have thought me 
routed and discomfited, as the gentleman had promised. Sir, a breath 
blows all this triumph away. There is not the slightest difference in 
the sentiments of my remarks on the two occasions. What I said 
here on Wednesday is in exact accordance with the opinions expressed 
by me in the other house in 1825. Though the gentleman had the 
metaphysics of Hudibras though he were able 

" to sever and divide 
A hair twixt north and north-west side, 

he could not yet insert his metaphysical scissors between the fair 
readinS of my remarks in 1825 and what I said here last week. There 
is not only no contradiction, no difference, but, in truth, too exact a 
similarity, both in thought and language, to be entirely in just taste. 
I had myself quoted the same speech; had recurred to it, and spoke 


with it open before me; and much of what I said was little more than 
a repetition from it. In order to make finishing work with this alleged 
contradiction, permit me to recur to the origin of this debate, and re 
view its course. This seems expedient, and may be done as well now 
as at any time. 

Well, then, its history is this: The honorable member from Connecti 
cut moved a resolution, which constituted the first branch of that which 
is now before us; that is to say, a resolution instructing the committee 
on public lands to inquire into the expediency of limiting, for a certain 
period, the sales of public lands to such as have heretofore been offered 
for sale; and whether sundry offices, connected with the sales of the 
lands, might not be abolished without detriment to the public service. 

In the progress of the discussion which arose on this resolution, an 
honorable member from New Hampshire moved to amend the resolu 
tion, so as entirely to reverse its object; that is, to strike it all out, and 
insert a direction to the committee to inquire into the expediency of 
adopting measures to hasten the sales, and extend more rapidily the 
surveys of the lands. 

The honorable member from Maine (Mr. Sprague) suggested that 
both these propositions might well enough go for consideration, to the 
committee; and in this state of the question, the member from South 
Carolina addressed the Senate in his first speech. He rose, he said, to 
give us his own free thoughts on the public lands. I saw him rise, with 
pleasure, and listened with expectation, though before he concluded I 
was filled with surprise. Certainly, I was never more surprised than 
to find him following up, to the extent he did, the sentiments and opin 
ions which the gentleman from Missouri had put forth, and which it is 
known he has long entertained. 

I need not repeat, at large, the general topics of the honorable 
gentleman s speech. When he said, yesterday, that he did not attack 
the eastern states, he certainly must have forgotten not only particular 
remarks, but the whole drift and tenor of his speech; unless he means 
by not attacking, that he did not commence hostilities, but that another 
had preceded him in the attack. He, in the first place, disapproved of 
the whole course of the government for forty years, in regard to its 
dispositions of the public land; and then, turning northward and east 
ward, and fancying he had found a cause for alleged narrowness and 
niggardliness in the " accursed policy" of the tariff, to which he repre 
sented the people of New England as wedded, he went on for a full 
hour, with remarks, the whole scope of which was to exhibit the re 
sults of this policy, in feelings and in measures unfavorable to the west. 
I thought his opinions unfounded and erroneous, as to the general 
course of the government, and ventured to reply to them. 

The gentleman had remarked on the analogy of other cases, and 
quoted the conduct of European governments towards their own sub 
jects, settling on this continent, as in point, to show that we had been 


harsh and rigid in selling when we should have given the public lands 
to settlers. I thought the honorable member had suffered his judg 
ment to be betrayed by a false analogy; that he was struck with an 
appearance of resemblance where there was no real similitude. I 
think so still. The first settlers of North America were enterprising 
spirits, engaged in private adventure, or fleeing from tyranny at home. 
When arrived here, they were forgotten by the mother country, or 
remembered only to be oppressed. Carried away again by the appear 
ance of analogy, or struck with the eloquence of the passage, the honor 
able member yesterday observed that the conduct of government 
towards the western emigrants, or my representation of it, brought to 
his mind a celebrated speech in the British Parliament. It was, sir, 
the speech of Colonel Barre. On the question of the stamp act, or tea 
tax, I forget which, Colonel Barre had heard a member on the treasury- 
bench argue, that the people of the United States, being British colon 
ists, planted by the maternal care, nourished by the indulgence, and 
protected by the arms of England, would not grudge their mite to re 
lieve the mother countiy from the heavy burden under which she 
groaned. The language of Colonel Barre, in reply to this, was, " They 
planted by your care ? Your oppression planted them in America. 
They fled from your tyranny, and grew by your neglect of them. So 
soon as you began to care for them, you showed your care by sending 
persons to spy out their liberties, misrepresent their character, prey 
upon them, and eat out their substance." 

And now does the honorable gentleman mean to maintain that lan 
guage like this is applicable to the conduct of the government of the 
United States towards the western emigrants, or to any representation 
given by me of that conduct ? Were the settlers in the west driven 
thither by our oppression ? Have they flourished only by our neglect 
of them ? Has the government done nothing but to prey upon them, 
and eat out their substance ? Sir, this fervid eloquence o f the British 
speaker, just when and where it was uttered, and fit to remain an ex 
ercise for the schools, is not a little out of place, when it was brought 
ihence to be applied here, to the conduct of our own country towards her 
own citizens. From America to England it may be true; from Ameri 
cans to their own government it would be strange language. Let us 
leave it to be recited and declaimed by our boys against a foreign 
nation; not introduce it here, to recite and declaim ourselves against 
our own. 

But I come to the point of the alleged contradiction. In my remarks 
on Wednesday, I contended that we could not give away gratuitously 
all the public lands; that we held them in trust; that the government 
had solemnly pledged itself to dispose of them as a common fund for 
the common benefit, and to sell and settle them as its discretion should 
dictate. Now, sir, what contradiction does the gentleman find to this 
sentiment in the speech of 1825? He quotes me as having then said, 


thrt we ought not to hug these lands as a very great treasure. Very 
well, sir; supposing me to be accurately reported in that expression, 
\vhat is the contradiction? I have not now said, that we should hug 
these lands as a favorite source of pecuniary income. No such thing. 
It is not my view. What I have said, and what I do say, is, that they 
are a common fund to be disposed of for the common benefit to be 
sold at low prices, for the accommodation of settlers, keeping the 
object of settling the lands as much in view as that of raising money 
from them. This I say now, ami this I have always said. Is this 
hugging them as a favorite treasure ? Is there no difference between 
hugging and hoarding this fund, on the one hand, as a great treasure, 
and on the other of disposing of it at low prices, placing the proceeds 
in the general treasury of the Union? My opinion is, that as much is 
to be made of the land, as fairly and reasonably may be, selling it all 
the while at such rates as to give the fullest effect to settlement. This 
is not giving it all away to the states, as the gentleman would propose; 
nor is it hugging the fund closely and tenaciously, as a favorite treas 
ure; but it is, in my judgment, a just and wise policy, perfectly accord 
ing with all the various duties which rest on government. So much 
for my contradiction. And what is it? Where is the ground of the 
gentleman s triumph ? What inconsistency, in word or doctrine, has 
he been able to detect? Sir, if this be a sample of that discomfiture 
with which the honorable gentleman threatened me, commend me to 
the word discomfiture for the rest of my life. 

But, after all, this is not the point of the debate ; and I must bring 
the gentleman back to that which is the point. 

The real question between me and him is, Where has the doctrine 
been advanced, at the south or the east, that the population of the west 
should be retarded, or, at least, need not be hastened, on account of 
its effect to drain off the people from the Atlantic States ? Is this doc 
trine, as has been alleged, of eastern origin ? That is the question. 
Has the gentleman found any thing by which he can make good his 
accusation ? I submit to the Senate, that he has entirely failed ; and 
as far as this debate has shown, the only person who has advanced 
s-uch sentiments is a gentleman from South Carolina, and a friend to 
the honorable member himself. The honorable gentleman has given 
, no answer to this ; there is none which can be given. This simple 
; fact, while it requires no comment to enforce it, defies all argument to 
refute it. I could refer to the speeches of another Southern gentle 
man, in 3 ears before, of the same general character, and to the same 
effect, as that which has been quoted; but I will not consume the time 
of the Senate by the reading of them. 

So then,, sir, New England is guiltless of the policy of retarding 
western population, and of all envy and jealousy of the growth of the 
new states. Whatever there be of that policy in the country, no part 
of it is hers. If it has a local habitation, the honorable member has 


probably seen, by this time, where he is to look for it ; and if it now 
has received a name, he himself has christened it. 

We approach, at length, sir, to a more important part of the honora 
ble gentleman s observations. Since it does not accord with my views 
of justice and policy to vote away the public lands altogether, as mere 
matter of gratuity, I am asked, by the honorable gentleman, on what 
ground it is that I consent to give them away in particular instances. 
How, he inquires, do I reconcile with these professed sentiments my 
support of measures appropriating portions of the lands to particular 
roads, particular canals, particular rivers, and particular institutions of 
education in the west ? This leads, sir, to the real and wide difference 
in political opinions between the honorable gentleman and myself. 
On my part, I look upon all these objects as connected with the com 
mon good,ffairly embraced in its objects and its terms; he, on the con 
trary, deems them all, if good at all, only local good. This is our 
difference. The interrogatory which he proceeded to put at once ex 
plains this difference. "What interest," asks he, "has South Caro 
lina in a canal in Ohio ?" Sir, this very question is full of significance. 
It developes the gentleman s whole political system; and its answer 
expounds mine. Here we differ toto calo. I look upon a road over 
the Alleghany, a canal round the falls of the Ohio, or a canal or rail 
way from the Atlantic to the western waters, as being objects large 
and extensive enough to be fairly said to be for the common benefit. 
The gentleman thinks otherwise, and this is the key to open his con 
struction of the powers of the government. He may well ask, upon 
his system, What interest has South Carolina in a canal in Ohio ; 
On that system, it is true, she has no interest. On that system, Ohio 
and Carolina are different governments and different countries, con 
nected here, it is true, by some slight and ill-defined bond of union, 
but in all main respects separate and diverse. On that system, Caro 
lina has no more interest in a canal in Ohio than in Mexico. The 
gentleman, therefore, only follows out his own principles; he does no 
more than arrive at the natural conclusions of his own doctrines ; he 
only announces the true results of that creed which he has adopted 
himself, and would persuade others to adopt, when he thus declares 
that South Carolina has no interest in a public work in Ohio. Sir, we 
narrow-minded people of New England do not reason thus. Our no- 
tion of things is entirely different. We look upon the states, not as 
separated, but as united. We love to dwell on that Union, and on the 
mutual happiness which it has so much promoted, and the common re 
nown which it has so greatly contributed to acquire. In our contem. 
plation, Carolina and Ohio are parts of the same country states united 
under the same general government, having interests comrrjon, associ^ 
ated, intermingled. In whatever is within the proper sphere of the con- 
stitutional power of this government, we look upon the states as one. 
W T e do not impose geographical limits to our patriotic feeling or re- 


gard; we do not follow rivers, and mountains, and lines of latitude, to 
find boundaries beyond which public improvements do not benefit us. 
We, who come here as agents and representatives of those narrow- 
minded and selfish men of New England, consider ourselves as bound 
to regard, with equal eye, the good of the whole, in whatever is within 
our power of legislation. Sir, if a railroad or a canal, beginning in 
South Carolina, and ending in South Carolina, appeared to me to be 
of national importance and national magnitude, believing as I do thai 
the power of government extends to the encouragement of works of 
that description, if I were to stand up here and ask, "What interest 
has Massachusetts in a railroad in South Carolina ?" I should not be 
willing to face my constituents. These same narrow-minded men 
would tell me that they had sent me to act for the whole country, and 
that one who possessed too little comprehension, either of intellect or 
feeling, one who was not large enough, in mind and heart, to em 
brace the whole, was not fit to be intrusted with the interest of any 
part. Sir, I do not desire to enlarge the powers of the government 
by unjustifiable construction, nor to exercise any not within a fair inter 
pretation. But when it is believed that a power does exist, then it is, 
in my judgment, to be exercised for the general benefit of the whole ; 
so far as respects the exercise of such a power, the states are one. It 
was the very object of the constitution to create unity of interests to 
the extent of the powers of the general government. In war and 
peace we are one; in commerce one; because the authority of the gen 
eral government reaches to war and peace, and to the regulation of 
commerce. I have never seen any more difficulty in erecting light 
houses on the lakes than on the ocean, in improving the harbors of 
inland seas, than if they were within the ebb and flow of the tide ; or 
of removing obstructions in the vast streams of the west, more than 
in any work to facilitate commerce on the Atlantic coast. If there be 
power for one, there is power also for the other; and they are all and 
equally for the country. 

There are other objects, apparently more local, or the benefit of 
which is less general, towards which, nevertheless, I have concurred 
with others to give aid by donations of land. It is proposed to con 
struct a road in or through one of the new states in which this govern 
ment possesses large quantities of land. Have the United States no 
right, as a great and untaxed proprietor are they under no obligation 
to contribute to an object thus calculated to promote the common 
good of all the proprietors, themselves included ? And even with re 
spect to education, which is the extreme case, let the question be con 
sidered. In the first place, as we have seen, it was made matter of 
compact with these states that they- should do their part to promote 
education. In the next place, our whole system of land laws proceeds 
on the idea that education is for the common good ; because, in every 
division, a certain portion is uniformly reserved and appropriated for 


the use of schools. And, finally, have not these new states singularly 
strong claims, founded on the ground already stated, that the govern 
ment is a great untaxed proprietor in the ownership of the soil ? It is 
a consideration of great importance that probably there is in no part 
of the country, or of the world, so great a call for the means of edu 
cation as in those new states, owing to the vast number of persons 
within those ages in which education and instruction are usually re 
ceived, if received at all. This is the natural consequence of recency 
of settlement and rapid increase. The census of these states shows 
how great a proportion of the whole population occupies the classes 
between infancy and manhood. These are the wide fields, and here 
is the deep and quick soil for the seeds of knowledge and virtue ; and 
this is the favored season, the spring time for sowing them. Let them 
be disseminated without stint. Let them be scattered with a bounti 
ful broadcast. Whatever the government can fairly do towards these 
objects, in my opinion, ought to be done. 

These, sir, are the grounds, succinctly stated, on which my votes 
for grants of lands for particular objects rest, while I maintain, at the 
same time, that it is all a common fund, for the common benefit. And 
reasons like these, I presume, have influenced the votes of other gen 
tlemen from New England. Those who have a different view of the 
powers of the government, of course, come to different conclusions 
on these as on other questions. I observed, when speaking on this 
subject before, that if we looked to any measure, whether for a road, 
a canal, or anything else intended for the improvement of the west, it 
would be found, that if the New England ayes were struck out of the 
list of votes, the southern noes would always have rejected the meas 
ure. The truth of this has not been denied, and cannot be denied. 
In stating this, I thought it just to ascribe it to the constitutional 
scruples of the south, rather than to any other less favorable or less 
charitable cause. But no sooner had I done this, than the honor 
able gentleman asks if I reproach him and his friends with their con 
stitutional scruples. Sir, I reproach nobody. I stated a fact, and 
gave the most respectful reason for it that occurred to me. The gen 
tleman cannot deny the fact he may, if he choose, disclaim the rea 
son. It is not long since I had occasion, in presenting a petition from 
his own state, to account for its being intrusted to my hands by saying, 
that the constitutional opinions of the gentleman and his worthy col 
league prevented them from supporting it. Sir, did I state this as a 
matter of reproach ? Far from it. Did I attempt to find any other 
cause than an honest one for these scruples ? Sir, I did not. It did 
not become me to doubt, nor to insinuate that the gentleman had 
either changed his sentiments, or that he had made up a set of consti 
tutional opinions, accommodated to any particular combination of po 
litical occurrences. Had I done so, I should have felt, that while I 
was entitled to little respect in thus questioning other people s motives, 
I justified the whole world in suspecting my own. 


But how has the gentleman returned this respect for others opinions ? 
His own candor and justice, how have they been exhibited towards the 
motives of others, while he has been at so much pains to maintain 
what nobody has disputed the purity of his own? Why, sir, he has 
asked, when, and how, and why New England votes were found going 
for measures favorable to the West; he has demanded to be informed 
whether all this did not begin in 1825, and while the election of 
President was still pending. Sir, to these questions, retort would be 
justified; and it is both cogent and at hand. Nevertheless, I will 
answer the inquiry not by retort, but by facts. I will tell the gentle 
man when, and how, and why New England has supported measures 
favorable to the West. I have already referred to the early history of 
the government to the first acquisition of the lands to the original 
laws for disposing of them and for governing the territories where they 
lie; and have shown the influence of New England men and New Eng 
land principles in all these leading measures. I should not be pardoned 
where I to go over that ground again. Coming to more recent times, 
and to measures of a less general character, I have endeavored to prove 
that everything of this kind designed for western improvement has 
depended on the votes of New England. All this is true beyond the 
power of contradiction. 

And now, sir, there are two measures to which I will refer, not so 
ancient as to belong to the early history of the public lands, and not 
so recent as to be on this side of the period when the gentleman 
charitably imagines a new direction may have been given to New 
England feeling and New England votes. These measures, and the 
New England votes in support of them, may be taken as samples and 
specimens of all the rest. In 1820 (observe, Mr. President, in 1820), 
the people of the West besought Congress for a reduction in the price of 
lands. In favor of that reduction, New England, with a delegation of 
forty members in the other house, gave thirty-three votes, and only one 
against it. The four Southern States, with fifty members, gave thirty-two 
votes for it, and seven against it. Again, in 1821 (observe, again, sir, 
the time), the law passed for the relief of the purchasers of the public 
lands. This was a measure of vital importance to the West, and more 
especially to the Southwest. It authorized the relinquishment of con 
tracts for lands, which had been entered into at high prices, and a reduc 
tion, in other esses, of not less than 37^ per cent, on the purchase 
money. Many millions of dollars, six or seven I believe, at least 
probably much more were relinquished by this law. On this bill New 
England, with her forty members, gave more affirmative votes than 
the four Southern States with their fifty-two or three members. 
These two are far the most important measures respecticg the 
public lands which have been adopted within the last twenty years. 
Yhey took place in 1820 and 1821. That is the time when. And as to 
the manner how, the gentleman already sees that it was by voting, 


in solid column, for the required relief; and lastly as to the cause why, 
I tell the gentlemen, it was because the members from New England 
thought the measures just and salutary; because they entertained 
towards the West neither envy, hatred, nor malice; because they 
deemed it becoming them, as just and enlightened public men, to 
meet the exigency which had arisen in the West with the appropriate 
measure of relief; because they felt it due to their own characters, and 
the characters of their New England predecessors in this government, 
to act towards the new states in the spirit of a liberal, patronizing, 
magnanimous policy. So much, sir, for the cause why; and I hope 
that by this time, sir, the honorable gentleman is satisfied; if not, I 
do not know when, or how, or why, he ever will be. 

Having recurred to these two important measures, in answer to the 
gentleman s inquiries, I must now beg permission to go back to a 
period still something earlier, for the purpose still further of showing 
how much, or rather how little, reason there is for the gentleman s in 
sinuation that political hopes, or fears, or party associations, were the 
grounds of these New England votes. And after what has been said, 
I hope it may be forgiven me if I allude to some political opinions and 
votes of my own, of very little public importance, certainly, but 
which, from the time at which they were given and expressed, may 
pass for good witnesses on this occasion. 

This government, Mr. President, from its origin to the peace of 
1815, had been too much engrossed with various other important con 
cerns to be able to turn its thoughts inward, and look to the develop 
ment of its vast internal resources. In the early part of President 
Washington s administration, it was fully occupied with organizing the 
government, providing for the public debt, defending the frontiers, 
and maintaining domestic peace. Before the termination of that ad 
ministration, the fires of the French revolution blazed forth, as from a 
new-opened volcano, and the whole breadth of the ocean did not en 
tirely secure us from its effects. The smoke and the cinders reached 
us, though not the burning lava. Difficult and agitating questions, 
embarrassing to government, and dividing public opinion, sprung out 
of the new state of our foreign relations, and were succeeded by 
others, and yet again by others, equally embarrassing, and equally 
exciting division and discord, through the long series of twenty years, 
till they finally issued in the war with England. Down to the close 
of that war, no distinct, marked, and deliberate attention had been 
given, or could have been given, to the internal condition of the coun 
try, its capacities of improvement, or the constitutional power of the 
government, in regard to objects connected with such improvement. 

The peace, Mr. President, brought about an entirely new and a 
most interesting state of things; it opened to us other prospects, and 
suggested other duties; we ourselves were changed, and the whole 
world was changed. The pacification of Europe, after June, 1815, 


assumed a firm and permanent aspect. The nations evidently mani 
fested that they were disposed for peace; some agitation of the waves 
might be expected, even after the storm had subsided; but the ten 
dency was, strongly and rapidly, towards settled repose. 

It so happened, sir, that I was at that time a member of Congress, and, 
like others, naturally turned my attention to the contemplation of the 
newly-altered condition of the country, and of the world. It appeared 
plainly enough to me, as well as to wiser and more experienced men, 
that the policy of the government would necessarily take a start in a 
new direction; because new directions would necessarily be given to 
the pursuits and occupations of the people. We had pushed our com 
merce far and fast, under the advantage of a neutral flag. But there 
were now no longer flags, either neutral or belligerent. The harvest 
of neutrality had been great, but we had gathered it all. With the 
peace of Europe, it was obvious there would spring up, in her circle of 
nations, a revived and invigorated spirit of trade, and a new activity 
in all the business and objects of civilized life. Hereafter, our com 
mercial gains. were to be earned only by success in a close and intense 
competition. Other nations would produce for themselves, and carry 
for themselves, and manufacture for themselves, to the full extent of 
their abilities. The crops of our plains would no longer sustain Euro 
pean armies, nor our ships longer supply those whom war had ren 
dered unable to supply themselves. It was obvious, that, under 
these circumstances, the country would begin to survey itself, and to 
estimate its own capacity of improvement. And this improvement, 
how was it to be accomplished, and who was to accomplish it? 

We were ten or twelve millions of people, spread over almost half 
a world. We were twenty-four states, some stretching along the 
same seaboard, some along the same line of inland frontier, and 
others on opposite banks of the same vast rivers. Two considera 
tions at once presented themselves, in looking at this state of things, 
with great force. One was, that that great branch of improvement, 
which consisted in furnishing new facilities of intercourse, necessarily 
ran into different states, in every leading instance, and would benefit 
the citizens of all such states. No one state, therefore, in such cases, 
would assume the whole expense, nor was the co-operation of several 
states to be expected. Take the instance of the Delaware Breakwater. 
It will cost several millions of money. Would Pennsylvania alone 
have ever constructed it ? Certainly never, while this Union lasts, 
because it is not for her sole benefit, Would Pennsylvania, New 
Jersey, and Delaware have united to accomplish it, at their joint ex 
pense ? Certainly not, for the same reason. It could not be done, 
therefore, but by the general government. The same may be said of 
the large inland undertakings, except that, in them, government, in 
stead of bearing the whole expense, co-operates with others who bear 
a part. The other consideration is, that the United States have the 


means. They enjoy the revenues derived from commerce, and the 
states have no abundant and easy sources of public income. The 
custom houses fill the general treasury, while the states have scanty 
resources, except by resort to heavy direct taxes. 

Under this view of things, I thought it necessary to settle, at least for 
myself, some definite notions, with respect to the powers of govern 
ment, in regard to internal affairs. It may not savor too much of self-com 
mendation to remark, that, with this object, I considered the constitu 
tion, its judicial construction, its contemporaneous exposition, and the 
whole history of the legislation of Congress under it ; and I arrived at the 
conclusion that government has power to accomplish sundry objects, or 
aid in their accomplishments, which are now commonly spoken of as In 
ternal Improvements. That conclusion, sir, may have been right, or it 
may have been wrong I am not about to argue the grounds of it at large. 
I say only that it adopted, and acted on, even so early as in 1816. Yes, 
Mr. President, I made up my opinion, and determined on my intended 
course of political conduct on these subjects, in the I4th Congress, in 
1816. And now, Mr. President, I have further to say, that I made up 
these opinions, and entered on this course of political conduct, Tencro 
duce. Yes, sir, I pursued, in all this, a South Carolina track. On the 
doctrines of internal improvement, South Carolina, as she was then 
represented in the other house, set forth, in 1816, under a fresh and 
leading breeze; and I was among the followers. But if my leader 
sees new lights, and turns a sharp corner, unless I see new lights 
also, I keep straight on in the same path. I repeat, that leading gen 
tlemen from South Carolina were first and foremost in behalf of the 
doctrines of internal improvements, when those doctrines first came 
to be considered and acted upon in Congress. The debate on the 
bank question, on the tariff of 1816, and on the direct tax will show 
who was who, and what was what, at that time. The tariff of 1816, 
one of the plain cases of oppression and usurpation, from which, if 
the government does not recede, individual states may justly secede 
from the government, is, sir, in truth, a South Carolina tariff, sup 
ported by South Carolina votes. But for those votes, it could not 
have passed in the form in which it did pass; whereas, if it had de 
pended on Massachusetts votes, it would have been lost. Does not 
the honorable gentleman well know all this? There are certainly 
those who do full well know it all. I do not say this to reproach 
South Carolina; I only state the fact, and I think it will appear to be 
true, that among the earliest and boldest advocates of the tariff, as a 
measure of protection, and on the express ground of protection, were 
leading gentlemen of South Carolina in Congress. I did not then, and 
cannot now, understand their language in any other sense. While this 
tariff of 1816 was under discussion in the House of Representatives, 
an honorable gentleman from Georgia, now of this house (Mr. For- 
syth), moved to reduce the proposed duty on cotton. He failed by 


four votes, South Carolina giving three votes (enough to have turned 
the scale) against his motion. The act, sir, then passed, and received 
on its passage the support of a majority of the representatives of South 
Carolina present and voting. This act is the first, in the order of 
those now denounced as plain usurpations. We see it daily in the list 
by the side of those of 1824 and 1828, as a case of manifest oppres 
sion, justifying dis-union. I put it home to the honorable member 
from South Carolina, that his own state was not only "art and part" 
in this measure, but the causa causans. Without her aid, this seminal 
principle of mischief, this root of upas, could not have been planted. 
I have already said and it is true that this act proceeded on the 
ground of protection. It interfered directly with existing interests of 
great value and amount. It cut up the Calcutta cotton trade by the 
roots. But it passed, nevertheless, and it passed on the principle of 
protecting manufacturers, on the principle against free trade, on the 
principle opposed to that which lets us alone. 

Such, Mr. President, were the opinions of important and leading 
gentlemen of South Carolina, on the subject of internal improvement, 
in 1816. I went out of Congress the next year, and returning again 
in 1823, thought I found South Carolina where I had left her. I really 
supposed that all things remained as they were, and that the South 
Carolina doctrine of internal improvements would be defended by the 
same eloquent voices and the same strong arms, as formerly. In the 
lapse of these six years, it is true, political associations had assumed 
a new aspect and new divisions. A party had arisen in the south, 
hostile to the doctrine of internal improvements, and had vigorously 
attacked that doctrine. Anti-consolidation was the flag under which 
this party fought, and its supporters inveighed against internal im 
provements, much after the same manner in which the honorable gen 
tleman has now inveighed against them, as part and parcel of the 
system of consolidation. 

Whether this party arose in South Carolina herself, or in her neigh 
borhood, is more than I know. I think the latter. However that 
may have been, there were those found in South Carolina ready to 
make war upon it, and who did make intrepid war upon it. Names 
being regarded as things, in such controversies, they bestowed on the 
antMmprovement gentlemen the appellation of radicals. Yes, sir, 
the name of radicals, as a term of distinction, applicable and applied 
to those who denied the liberal doctrines of internal improvements, 
originated, according to the best of my recollection, somewhere be 
tween North Carolina and Georgia. Well, sir, those mischievous 
radicals were to be put down, and the strong arm of South Carolina 
was stretched out to put them down. About this time, sir, I returned 
to Congress. The battle with the radicals had been fought, and our 
South Carolina champions of the doctrines of internal improvement 
had nobly maintained their ground, and were understood to have 


achieved a victory. They had driven back the enemy with discomfit 
ure; a thing, by the way, sir, which is not always performed when it 
is promised A gentleman, to whom I have already referred in this 
debate, had come into Congress, during my absence from it, from 
South Carolina, and had brought with him a high reputation for 
ability. He came from a school with which we had been acquainted, 
et noscitur a sociis. I hold in my hand, sir, a printed speech of this 
distinguished gentleman (Mr. McDuffie) " on internal improvements," 
delivered about the period to which I now refer, and printed with a 
few introductory remarks upon consolidation; in which, sir, I think 
he quite consolidated the arguments of his opponents, the radicals, if 
to crush be to consolidate. I give you a short but substantive quota 
tion from these remarks. He is speaking of a pamphlet, then recently 
published, entitled " Consolidation;" and having alluded to the ques 
tion of rechartering the former bank of the United States, he says, 
" Moreover, in the early history of parties, and when Mr. Crawford 
advocated the renewal of the old charter, it was considered a federal 
measure; which internal improvement never was, as this author erro 
neously states. This latter measure originated in the administration 
of Mr. Jefferson, with the appropriation for the Cumberland road; 
and was first proposed, as a system, by Mr. Calhoun, and carried 
through the House of Representatives by a large majority of the re 
publicans, including almost every one of the leading men who carried 
us through the late war." 

So then, internal improvement is not one of the federal heresies. 

One paragraph more, sir. 

"The author in question, not content with denouncing as federal 
ists General Jackson, Mr. Adams, Mr. Calhoun, and the majority of 
the South Carolina delegation in Congress, modestly extends the de 
nunciation to Mr. Monroe and the whole republican party. Here are 
his words: During the administration of Mr. Monroe, much has 
r>assed which the republican party would be glad to approve, if they 
could! But the principal feature, and that which has chiefly elicited 
these observations, is the renewal of the system of internal improve 
ments. Now, this measure was adopted by a vote of 115 to 86, of a 
republican Congress, and sanctioned by a republican president. 
Who, then, is this author, who assumes the high prerogative of de 
nouncing, in the name of the republican party, the republican admin 
istration of the country a denunciation including within its s\veep 
Calhoun, Lowndes, and Cheves; men who will be regarded as the 
brightest ornaments of South Carolina, and the strongest pillars of 
the republican party, as long as the late war shall be remembered, and 
talents and patriotism shall be regarded as the proper objects of the 
admiration and gratitude of a free people!" 

Such are the opinions, sir, which were maintained by South Caro 
lina gentlemen in the House of Representatives on the subject of in- 


ternal improvement, when I took my seat there as a member from 
Massachusetts, in 1823. But this is not all; we had a bill before us, 
and passed it in that house, entitled " An act to procure the necessary 
surveys, plans, and estimates upon the subject of roads and canals." 
It authorizes the president to cause surveys and estimates to be made 
of the routes of such roads and canals as he might deem of national 
importance in a commercial or military point of view, or for the trans 
portation of the mail; and appropriated thirty thousand dollars out of 
the treasury to defray the expense. This act, though preliminary in 
its nature, covered the whole ground. It took for granted the com 
plete power of internal improvement, as far as any of its advocates 
had ever contended for it. Having passed the other house, the bill 
came up to the Senate, and was here considered and debated in April, 
1824. The honorable member from South Carolina was a member of 
the Senate at that time. While the bill was under consideration here, 
a. motion was made to add the following proviso: 

"Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to 
affirm or admit a power in Congress, on their own authority, to make 
roads or canals within any of the states of the Union." 

, The yeas and nays were taken on this proviso, and the honorable 
member voted in the negative. The proviso failed. 

A motion was then made to add this provision, viz.: 

" Provided, That the faith of the United States is hereby pledged, 
that no money shall ever be expended for roads or canals, except it 
shall be among the several states, and in the same proportion as 
direct taxes are laid and assessed by the provisions of the constitu 

The honorable member voted against this proviso also, and it 

The bill was then put on its passage, and the honorable member 
voted for it, and it passed, and became a law. 

Now, it strikes me, sir, that there is no maintaining these votes but 
upon the power of internal improvement, in its broadest sense. In 
truth, these bills for surveys and estimates have always been con 
sidered as test questions. They show who is for and who against in 
ternal improvement. This law itself went the whole length, and 
assumed the full and complete power. The gentleman s votes sus 
tained that power, in every form in which the various propositions to 
amend presented it. He went for the entire and unrestrained au 
thority, without consulting the states, and without agreeing to any 
proportionate distribution. And now, suffer me to remind you, Mr. 
President, that it is this very same power, thus sanctioned, in every 
form, by the gentleman s own opinion, that is so plain and manifest 
a usurpation, that the state of South Carolina is supposed to be justi 
fied in refusing submission to any laws carrying the power into effect. 
Truly, sir, is not this a little too hard? May we not crave some 
A. p.-y. 


mercy, under favor and protection of the gentleman s own authority ? 
Admitting that a road or a canal must be written down flat usurpation 
as ever was committed, may we find no mitigation in our respect for 
his place, and his vote, as one that knows the law ? 

The tariff which South Carolina had an efficient hand in establishing 
in 1816, and this asserted power of internal improvement, advanced 
by her in the same year, and, as we have now seen, approved and 
sanctioned by her representatives in 1824, these two measures are the 
great grounds on which she is now thought to be justified in breaking 
up the Union, if she sees fit to break it up. 

I may now safely say, I think, that we have had the authority of 
leading and distinguished gentlemen from South Carolina in support 
of the doctrine of internal improvement. I repeat, that, up to 1824, I, 
for one, followed South Carolina; but when that star in its ascension 
veered off in an unexpected direction, I relied on its light no longer. 
[Here the Vice President said, does the chair understand the gentle 
man from Massachusetts to say that the person now occupying the 
chair of the Senate has changed his opinions on the subject of internal 
improvements ?] From nothing ever said to me, sir, have I had rea 
son to know of any change in the opinions of the person filling the 
chair of the Senate. If such change has taken place, I regret it; I 
speak generally of the State of South Carolina. Individuals we know 
there are who hold opinions favorable to the power. An application 
for its exercise in behalf of a public work in South Carolina itself is 
now pending, I believe, in the other house, presented by members 
from that state. 

I have thus, sir, perhaps not without some tediousness of detail, 
shown that, if I am in error on the subject of internal improvements, 
how and in what company I fell into that error. If I am wrong, it is 
apparent who misled me. 

I go to other remarks of the honorable member and I have to com 
plain of an entire misapprehension of what I said on the subject of the 
national debt though I can hardly perceive how any one could mis 
understand me. What I said was, not that I wished to put off the 
payment of the debt, but, on the contrary, that I had always voted for 
every measure for its reduction, as uniformly as the gentleman him 
self. He seems to claim the exclusive merit of a disposition to reduce 
the public charge; I do not allow it to him. As a debt, I was, I am, for 
paying it; because it is a charge on our finances, and on the industry 
of the country. But I observed that I thought I perceived a morbid 
fervor on that subject; an excessive anxiety to pay off the debt; not so 
much because it is a debt simply, as because, while it lasts, it furnishes 
one objection to disunion. It is a tie of common interest while it 
lasts. I did not impute such motive to the honorable member him 
self; but that there is such a feeling in existence I have not a particle 
of doubt. The most I said was, that if one effect of the debt was to 


strengthen our Union, that effect itself was not regretted by me, how 
ever much others might regret it. The gentleman has not seen how 
to reply to this otherwise than by supposing me to have advanced the 
doctrine that a national debt is a national blessing. Others, I must 
hope, will find less difficulty in understanding me. I distinctly and 
pointedly cautioned the honorable member not to understand me as 
expressing an opinion favorable to the continuance of the debt. I 
repeated this caution, and repeated it more than once but it was 
thrown away. 

On yet another point I was still more unaccountably misunderstood. 
The gentleman had harangued against consolidation." I told him, 
in reply, that there was one kind of consolidation to which I was at 
tached, and that was, the consolidation of our Union; and that this was 
precisely that consolidation to which I feared others were not attached; 
that such consolidation was the very end of the constitution the lead 
ing object, as they had informed us themselves, which its framers had 
kept in view. I turned to their communication, and read their very 
words, "the consolidation of the Union," and expressed my devotion 
to this sort of consolidation. I said in terms that I wished not, in the 
slightest degree, to augment the powers of this government; that my 
object was to preserve, not to enlarge; and that, by consolidating the 
Union, I understood no more than the strengthening of the Union 
and perpetuating it. Having been thus explicit; having thus read, from 
the printed book, the precise words which I adopted, as expressing 
my own sentiments, it passes comprehension, how any man could 
understand me as contending for an extension of the powers of the 
government, or for consolidation in that odious sense in which it 
means an accumulation, in the federal government, of the power 
properly belonging to the states. 

I repeat, sir, that, in adopting the sentiments of the framers of the 
constitution, I read their language audibly, and word for word; and I 
pointed out the distinction, just as fully as I have now done, between 
the consolidation of the Union and that other obnoxious consolidation 
which I disclaimed, and yet the honorable gentleman misunderstood 
me. The gentleman had said that he wished for no fixed revenue 
not a shilling. If, by a word, he could convert the Capitol into gold, 
he would not do it. Why all this fear of revenue ? Why, sir, because, 
as the gentleman told us, it tends to consolidation. Now, this can 
mean neither more nor less than that a common revenue is a common 
interest, and that all common interests tend to hold the union of the 
states together. I confess I like that tendency; if the gentleman dis 
likes it, he is right in deprecating a shilling s fixed revenue. So much, 
sir, for consolidation. 

As well as I recollect the course of his remarks, the honorable 
gentleman next recurred to the subject of the tariff. He did not 
doubt the word must be of unpleasant sound to me, and proceeded, 


with an effort neither new nor attended with new success, to involve 
me and my votes in inconsistency and contradiction. I am happy 
the honorable gentleman has furnished me an opportunity of a timely 
remark or two on that subject. I was glad he approached it, for it 
is a question I enter upon without fear from any body The strenuous 
toil of the gentleman has been to raise an inconsistency between my 
dissent to the tariff in 1824 and my vote in 1828. It is labor lost. He 
pays undeserved compliment to my speech in 1824; but this is to raise 
me high that my fall, as he would have it, in 1828 may be the more 
signal. Sir, there was no fall at all. Between the ground I stood on 
in 1824 and that I took in 1828, there was not only no precipice, but 
no declivity. It was a change of position, to meet new circumstances, 
but on the same level. A plain tale explains the whole matter. In 
1816, I had not acquiesced in the tariff, then supported by South 
Carolina. To some parts of it, especially, I felt and expressed great 
repugnance. I held the same opinions in 1821, at the meeting in 
Faneuil Hall, to which the gentleman has alluded. I said then, and 
say now, that, as an original question, the authority of Congress to 
exercise the revenue power, with direct reference to the protection of 
manufactures, is a questionable authority, far more questionable, in 
my judgment, than the power of internal improvements. I must con 
fess, sir, that, in one respect, some impression has been made on my 
opinions lately. Mr. Madison s publication has put the power in a 
very strong light. He has placed it, I must acknowledge, upon grounds 
of construction and argument which seem impregnable. But, even if 
the power were doubtful, on the face of the constitution itself, it had 
been assumed and asserted in the first revenue law ever passed under 
the same constitution; and, on this ground, as a matter settled by 
contemporaneous practice, I had refrained from expressing the opinion 
that the tariff laws transcended constitutional limits, as the gentleman 
supposes. What I did say at Faneuil Hall, as far as I now remember, 
was, that this was originally matter of doubtful construction. The 
gentleman himself, I suppose, thinks there is no doubt about it, and 
that the laws are plainly against the constitution-. Mr. Madison s 
letters, already referred to, contain, in my judgment, by far the most 
able exposition extant of this part of the constitution. He has satis 
fied me, so far as the practice of the government had left it an open 

With a great majority of the representatives of Massachusetts, I 
voted against the tariff of 1824. My reasons were then given, and I 
will not now repeat them. But notwithstanding our dissent, the great 
states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Kentucky went for 
the bill, in almost unbroken column, and it passed. Congress and 
the President sanctioned it, and it became the law of the land. What, 
then, were we to do ? Our only option was either to fall in with this 
settled course of public policy, and to accommodate ourselves to it as 


well as we could, or to embrace the South Carolina doctrine, and talk 
of nullifying the statute by state interference. 

This last alternative did not suit our principles, and of course, we 
adopted the former. In 1827, the subject came again before Con 
gress, on a proposition favorable to wool and woollens. We looked 
upon the system of protection as being fixed and settled. The law of 
1824 remained. It had gone into full operation, and in regard to 
some objects intended by it, perhaps most of them, had produced all 
its expected effects. No man proposed to repeal it no man attempted 
to renew the general contest on its principle. But, owing to subse 
quent and unforeseen occurrences, the benefit intended by it to wool 
and woollen fabrics had not been realized. Events, not known here 
when the law passed, had taken place, which defeated its object in 
that particular respect. A measure was accordingly brought forward 
to meet this precise deficiency, to remedy this particular defect. It 
was limited to wool and woollens. Was ever anything more reason 
able ? If the policy of the tariff laws had become established in prin 
ciple as the permanent policy of the government, should they not be 
revised and amended, and made equal, like other laws, as exigencies 
should arise, or justice require ? Because we had doubted about 
adopting the system, were we to refuse to cure its manifest defects, 
after it became adopted, and when no one attempted its repeal ? And 
this, sir, is the inconsistency so much bruited. I had voted against 
the tariff of 1824 but it passed ; and in 1827 and 1828, I voted to 
amend it in a point essential to the interest of my constituents. 
Where is the inconsistency ? Could I do otherwise ? 

Sir, does political consistency consist in always giving negative 
votes ? Does it require of a public man to refuse to concur in amending 
laws because they passed against his consent ? Having voted against 
the tariff originally, does consistency demand that I should do all in 
my power to maintain an unequal tariff, burdensome to my own con 
stituents, in many respects, favorable in none? To consistency of 
that sort I lay no claim; and there is another sort to which I lay as 
little and that is, a kind of consistency by which persons feel them 
selves as much bound to oppose a proposition after it has become the 
law of the land as before. 

The bill of 1827, limited, as I have said, to the single object in 
which the tariff of 1824 had manifestly failed in its effect, passed the 
House of Representatives, but was lost here. We had then the act of 
1828. I need not recur to the history of a measure so recent. Its 
enemies spiced it with whatsoever they thought would render it distaste 
ful ; its friends took it, drugged as it was. Vast amounts of property, 
many millions, had been invested in manufactures, under the induce 
ments of the act of 1824. Events called loudly, as I thought, for 
further regulations to secure the degree of protection intended by that 
act. I was disposed to vote for such regulations, and desired nothing 


more ; but certainly was not to be bantered out of my purpose by a 
threatened augmentation of duty on molasses, put into the bill for the 
avowed purpose of making it obnoxious. The vote may have been 
right or wrong, wise or unwise, but it is little less than absurd to 
allege against it an inconsistency with opposition to the former law. 

Sir, as to the general subject of the tariff, I have little now to say. 
Another opportunity may be presented. I remarked, the other day, 
that this policy did not begin with us in New England ; and yet, sir, 
New England is charged with vehemence as being favorable, or 
charged with equal vehemence as being unfavorable, to the tariff 
policy, just as best suits the time, place, and occasion for making 
some charge against her. The credulity of the public has been put to 
its extreme capacity of false impression relative to her conduct in this 
particular. Through all the south, during the late contest, it was New 
England policy, and a New England administration, that was afflicting 
the country with a tariff policy beyond all endurance, while on the 
other side of the Alleghany, even the act of 1828 itself the very sub 
limated essence of oppression, according to southern opinions was 
pronounced to be one of those blessings for which the west was indebted 
to the " generous south." 

With large investments in manufacturing establishments, and vari 
ous interests connected with and dependent on them, it is not to be 
expected that New England, any more than other portions of the 
country will now consent to any measure destructive or highly 
dangerous. The duty of the government, at the present moment, 
would seem to be to preserve, not to destroy ; to maintain the 
position which it has assumed ; and for one, I shall feel it an indis 
pensable obligation to hold it steady, as far as in my power, to that 
degree of protection which it has undertaken to bestow. No more of 
the tariff. 

Professing to be provoked by what he chose to consider a charge 
made by me against South Carolina, the honorable member, Mr. 
President, has taken up a new crusade against New England. Leav 
ing altogether the subject of the public lands, in which his success 
perhaps, had been neither distinguished nor satisfactory, and letting 
go, also, of the topic of the tariff, he sallied forth in a general assault 
on the opinions, politics, and parties of New England, as they have 
been exhibited in the last thirty years. This is natural. The 
" narrow policy" of the public lands had proved a legal settlement in 
South Carolina, and was not to be removed. The "accursed policy" 
of the tariff, also, had established the fact of its birth and parentage 
in the same state. No wonder, therefore, the gentleman wished to 
carry the war. as he expressed it, into the enemy s country. Pru 
dently willing tc quit these subjects, he was doubtless desirous of 
fastening others, which could not be transferred south of Mason and 
Dixon s line The politics of New England became his theme ; and 


it was in this part of his speech, I think, that he menaced me with 
such sore discomfiture. 

Discomfiture ! why, sir, when he attacks any thing which I main 
tain, and overthrows it; when he turns the right or left of any position 
which I take up; when he drives me from any ground I choose to oc 
cupy, he may then talk of discomfiture, but not till that distant day. 
What has he done? Has he maintained his own charge? Has he 
proved what he alleged ? Has he sustained himself in his attack on 
the government, and on the history of the north, in the matter of the 
public lands? Has he disproved a fact, refuted a proposition, weak 
ened an argument maintained by me? Has h come within beat of 
drum of any position of mine ? O, no ; but he has " carried the war 
into the enemy s country !" Carried the war into the enemy s coun 
try! Yes, sir, and what sort of a war has he made of it? Why, sir, 
he has stretched a drag net over the whole surface of perished pamph 
lets, indiscreet sermons, frothy paragraphs, and fuming popular ad 
dresses; over whatever the pulpit in its moments of alarm, the press 
in its heats, and parties in their extravagance, have severally thrown 
off, in times of general excitement and violence. He has thus swept 
together a mass of such things, as, but that they are now old, the pub 
lic health would have required him rather to leave in their state of dis 

For a good long hour or two, we had the unbroken pleasure of list 
ening to the honorable member, while he recited, with his usual grace 
and spirit, and with evident high gusto, speeches, pamphlets, ad 
dresses, and all the et ceteras of the political press, such as warm heads 
produce in warm times, and such as it would be " discomfiture" in 
deed for any one, whose taste did not delight in that sort of reading, 
to be obliged to peruse. This is his war. This is to carry the \var 
into the enemy s country. It is in an invasion of this sort that he flat 
ters himself with the expectation of gaining laurels fit to adorn a sen 
ator s brow. 

Mr. President, I shall not, it will, I trust, not be expected that I 
should, either now or at any time, separate this farrago into parts; 
and answer and examine its components. I shall hardly bestow upon 
it all a general remark or two. In the run of forty years, sir, under 
this constitution, we have experienced sundry successive violent party 
contests. Party arose, indeed, with the constitution itself, and in 
some form or other has attended through the greater part of its history. 

Whether any other constitution than the old articles of confedera 
tion was desirable was, itself, a question on which parties formed, if 
a new constitution was framed, what powers should be given to it was 
another question; and when it had been formed, what was, in fact, the 
just extent of the powers actually conferred, was a third. Parties, as 
we know, existed under the first administration, as distinctly marked 
as those which manifested themselves at any subsequent period. 


The contest immediately preceding the political change in 1801, and 
that again, which existed at the commencement of the late war, are 
other instances of party excitement, of something more than usual 
strength and intensity. In all these conflicts there was, no doubt, 
much of violence on both and all sides. It would be impossible, if 
one had a fancy for such employment; to adjust the relative quantum 
of violence between these two contending parties. There was enough 
in each, as must always be expected in popular governments. With a 
great deal of proper and decorous discussion there was mingled a great 
deal, also, of declamation, virulence, crimination and abuse. 

In regard to any party, probably, at one of the leading epochs in 
the history of parties, enough may be found to make out another 
equally inflamed exhibition, as that with which the honorable mem 
ber has edified us. For myself, sir, I shall not rake among the rub 
bish of by-gone times to see what I can find, or whether I cannot find 
something by which I can fix a blot on the escutcheon of any state, 
any party, or any part of the country. General Washington s admin 
istration was steadily and zealously maintained, as we all know, by 
New England. It was violently opposed elsewhere. We know in 
what quarter he had the most earnest, constant, and persevering sup 
port, in all his great and leading measures. We know where his pri 
vate and personal character was held in the highest degree of attach 
ment and veneration, and we know, too, where his measures were 
opposed, his services slighted, and his character vilified. 

We know, or we might know, if we turn to the journals, who ex 
pressed respect, gratitude, and regret, when he retired from the chief 
magistracy; and who refused to express either respect, gratitude, or 
regret. I shall not open those journals. Publications more abusive 
or scurrilous never saw the light than were sent forth against Wash 
ington, and all his leading measures, from presses south of New En 
gland; but I shall not look them up. I employ no scavengers no 
one is in attendance on me, tendering such means of retaliation; and 
if there were, with an ass s load of them, with a bulk as huge as that 
which the gentleman himself has produced, I would not touch one of 
them. I see enough of the violence of our own times to be no way 
anxious to rescue from forgetfulness the extravagances of times past. 
Besides, what is all this to the present purpose? It has nothing to do 
with the public lands, in regard to which the attack was begun; and it 
has nothing to with those sentiments and opinions, which I have 
thought tend to disunion, and all of which the honorable member 
seems to have adopted himself, and undertaken to defend. New 
England has, at times, so argues the gentleman, held opinions as 
dangerous as those which he now holds. Be it so. But why, there 
fore, does he abuse New England? If he finds himself countenanced 
by acts of hers, how is it that, while he relies on these acts, he covers, 
01 seeks to cover their authors with reproach? 


But, sir, if, in the course of forty years, there have been undue effer 
vescences of party in New England, has the same thing happened no 
where else? Party animosity and party outrage, not in New England, 
but elsewhere, denounced President Washington, not only as a fed- 
raiist, but as a tory, a British agent, a man who, in his high office, 
sanctioned corruption. But does the honorable member suppose that, 
if I had a tender here, who should put such an effusion of wickedness 
and folly in my hand, that I would stand up and read it against the 
south? Parties ran into great heats, again, in 1799 and iSoo. What 
was said, sir, or rather what was not said, in those years, against John 
Adams, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, and 
its admitted ablest defender on the floor of Congress? If the gentle 
man wants to increase his stores of party abuse and frothy violence, 
if he has a determined proclivity to such pursuits, there are treasures 
of that sort south of the Potomac, much to his taste, yet untouched. I 
shall not touch them. 

The parties which divided the country, at the commencement of the 
late war, were violent. But, then, there was violence on both sides, 
and violence in every state. Minorities and majorities were equally 
violent. There was no more violence against the war in New Eng 
land than in other states; nor any more appearance of violence, ex 
cept that, owing to a dense population, greater facility for assembling, 
and more presses, there may have been more, in quantity, spoken 
and printed there than in some other places. In the article of ser 
mons, too, New England is somewhat more abundant than South 
Carolina; and for that reason, the chance of finding here and there 
an exceptionable one may be greater. I hope, too, there are more 
good ones. Opposition may have been more formidable in New 
England, as it embraced a larger portion of the whole population; 
but it was no more unrestrained in its principle, or violent in manner. 
The minorities dealt quite as harshly with their own state govern 
ments as the majorities dealt with the administration here. There 
were presses on both sides, popular meetings on both sides ay, and 
pulpits on both sides also. The gentleman s purveyors have only 
catered for him among the productions of one side. I certainly shall 
not supply the deficiency by furnishing samples of the other. I leave 
to him, and to them, the whole concern. 

It is enough for me to say that if, in any part of this, their grateful 
occupation if in all their researches they find anything in the his 
tory of Massachusetts, or New England, or in the proceedings of any 
legislative or other public body, disloyal to the Union, speaking 
slightly of its value, proposing to break it up, or recommending non- 
intercourse with neighboring states, on account of difference of politi 
cal opinion, then, sir, I give them all up to the honorable gentleman s 
unrestrained rebuke, expecting, however, that he will extend his buf 
ferings, in like manner, to all similar proceedings, wherever else found. 


The gentleman, sir, has spoken at large of former parties, now no 
longer in being, by their received appellations, and has undertaken to 
instruct us, not only in the knowledge of their principles, but of their 
respective pedigrees also. He has ascended to their origin, and run 
out their genealogies. With most exemplary modesty he speaks of 
the party to which he professes to have belonged himswlf, as the true, 
pure, the only honest, patriotic party, derived by regular descent 
from father to son, from the time of the virtuous Romans! Spread 
ing before us the family tree of political parties, he takes especial care 
to show himself snugly perched on a popular bough! He is wakeful to 
the expediency of adopting such rules of descent, for political parties, as 
shall bring him in, in exclusion of others, as an heir to the inheritance 
of all public virtue, and all true political principles. His doxy is always 
orthodoxy. Heterodoxy is confined to his opponents. He spoke, 
sir, of the federalists, and I thought I saw some eyes begin to open 
and stare a little when he ventured on that ground. I expected he 
would draw his sketches rather lightly when he looked on the circle 
round him, and especially if he should cast his thoughts to the high 
places out of the Senate. Nevertheless, he went back to Rome, ad 
annum urbe condita, and found the fathers of the federalists in the 
primeval aristocrats of that renowned empire! He traced the flow of 
federal blood down through successive ages and centuries, till he got 
into the veins of the American tories (of whom, by the way, there 
were twenty in the Carolinas for one in Massachusetts). From the 
tories he followed it to the federalists; and as the federal party was 
broken up, and there was no possibility of transmitting it further on 
this side of the Atlantic, he seems to have discovered that it has gone 
off, collaterally, though against all the canons of descent, into the 
ultras of France, and finally became extinguished, like exploded gas, 
among the adherents of Don Miguel. 

This, sir, is an abstract of the gentleman s history of federalism. I 
am not about to controvert it. It is not, at present, worth the pains 
of refutation, because, sir, if at this day one feels the sin of federalism 
lying heavily on his conscience, he can easily obtain remission. He 
may even have an indulgence, if he Is desirous of repeating the trans 
gression. It is an affair of no difficulty to get into this same right 
line of patriotic descent. A man, nowadays, is at liberty to choose 
his political parentage. He may elect his own father. Federalist OP 
not, he may, if he choose, claim to belong to the favored stock, and 
his claim will be allowed. He may carry back his pretensions just as 
far as the honorable gentleman himself; nay, he may make himself 
out the honorable gentleman s cousin, and prove satisfactorily that he 
is descended from the same political great-grandfather. All this is 
allowable. We all know a process, sir, by which the whole Essex 
Junto could, in one hour, be all washed white from their ancient 
federalism, and come out, every one of them, an original democrat, 


dyed in the wool! Some of them have actually undergone the opera 
tion, and they say it is quite easy. The only inconvenience it occa 
sions, as they tell us, is a slight tendency of the blood to the face, a 
soft suffusion, which, however, is very transient, since nothing is said 
calculated to deepen the red on the cheek, but a prudent silence ob 
served in regard to all the past. Indeed, sir, some smiles of approba 
tion have been bestowed, and some crumbs of comfort have fallen, 
not a thousand miles from the door of the Hartford Convention itself. 
And if the author of the ordinance of 1787 possessed the other requis 
ite qualifications, there is no knowing, notwithstanding his federalism, 
to what heights of favor he might not yet attain. 

Mr. President, in carrying his warfare, such as it was, into New 
England, the honorable gentleman all along professes to be acting on 
the defensive. He desires to consider me as having assailed South 
Carolina, and insists that he comes forth only as her champion, and 
in her defence. Sir, I do not admit that I made any attack whatever 
on South Carolina. Nothing like it. The honorable member, in his 
first speech, expressed opinions in regard to revenue, and some other 
topics, which I heard both with pain and surprise. I told the gentle 
man that I was aware that such sentiments were entertained out of 
the government, but had not expected to find them advanced in it; 
that I knew there were persons in the south who speak of our Union 
with indifference, or doubt, taking pains to magnify its evils, and to 
say nothing of its benefits; that the honorable member himself, I was 
sure, could never be one of these; and I regretted the expression of 
such opinions as he had avowed, because I thought their obvious ten 
dency was to encourage feelings of disrespect to the Union, and to 
weaken its connection. This, sir, is the sum and substance of all I 
said on the subject. And this constitutes the attack which called on 
the chivalry of the gentleman, in his opinion, to harry us with such a 
forage among the party pamphlets and party proceedings of Massa 
chusetts. If he means that I spoke with dissatisfaction or disrespect 
of the ebullitions of individuals in South Carolina, it is true. But, if 
he means that I had assailed the character of the state, her honor or 
patriotism, that I had reflected on her history or her conduct, he had 
not the slightest ground for any such assumption. I did not even 
refer, I think, in my observations, to any collection of individuals. I 
said nothing of the recent conventions. I spoke in the most guarded 
and careful manner, and only expressed my regret for the publication 
of opinions .which I presumed the honorable member disapproved as 
much as myself. In this, it seems, I was mistaken. 

I do not remember that the gentleman has disclaimed any senti 
ment, or any opinion, of a supposed anti-Union tendency, which on 
all or any of the recent occasions has been expressed. The whole 
drift of his speech has been rather to prove, that, in divers times and 
manners, sentiments equally liable to objection have been promul- 


gated in New England. And one would suppose that his object, in 
this reference to Massachusetts, was to find a precedent to justify 
proceedings in the south, were it not for the reproach and contumely 
with which he labors, all along, to load his precedents. 

By way of defending South Carolina from what he chooses to think 
an attack on her, he first quotes the example of Massachusetts, and 
then denounces that example, in good set terms. This twofold pur 
pose, not very consistent with itself, one would think, was exhibited 
more than once in the course of his speech. He referred, for instance, 
to the Hartford Convention. Did he do this for authority, or for a 
topic of reproach ? Apparently for both; for he told us that he should 
find no fault with the mere fact of holding such a convention, and 
considering and discussing such questions as he supposes were then 
and there discussed; but what rendered it obnoxious was the time it 
was holden, and the circumstances of the country then existing. We 
were in a war, he said, and the country needed all our aid; the hand 
of government required to be strengthened, not weakened; and patri 
otism should have postponed such proceedings to another day. The 
thing itself, then, is a precedent; the time and manner of it, only, sub 
ject of censure. 

Now, sir, I go much farther, on this point, than the honorable mem 
ber. Supposing, as the gentleman seems to, that the Hartford Con 
vention assembled for any such purpose as breaking up the Union, 
because they thought unconstitutional laws had been passed, or to 
concert on that subject, or to calculate the value of the Union; sup 
posing this to be their purpose, or any part of it, then I say the meet 
ing itself was disloyal, and obnoxious to censure, whether held in 
time of peace, or time of war, or under whatever circumstances. The 
material matter is the object. Is dissolution the object ? If it be, ex 
ternal circumstances may make it a more or less aggravated case, but 
cannot affect the principle. I do not hold, therefore, that the Hartford 
Convention was pardonable, even to the extent of the gentleman s 
admission, if its objects were really such as have been imputed to it. 
Sir, there never was a time, under any degree of excitement, in which 
the Hartford Convention, or any other convention, could maintain it 
self one moment in New England, if assembled for any such purpose 
as the gentleman says would have been an allowable purpose. To 
hold conventions to decide questions of constitutional law ! to try 
the binding validity of statutes, by votes in a convention ! Sir, the 
Hartford Convention, I presume, would not desire that the honorable 
gentleman should be their defender or advocate, if he puts their case 
upon such untenable and extravagant grounds. 

Then, sir, the gentleman has no fault to find with these recently- 
promulgated South Carolina opinions. And, certainly, he need have 
none; for his own sentiments, as now advanced, and advanced on re- 
floction, as far as I have been able to comprehend them, go the full 


length of all these opinions. I propose, sir, to say something on 
these, and to consider how far they are just and constitutional. Be 
fore doing that, however, let me observe, that the eulogium pro 
nounced on the character of the state of South Carolina, by the hon 
orable gentleman, for her revolutionary and other merits, meets my 
hearty concurrence. I shall not acknowledge that the honorable 
member goes before me in regard for whatever of distinguished talent 
or distinguished character South Carolina has produced. I claim part 
of the honor, I partake in the pride, of her great name. I claim them 
for countrymen, one and all. The Laurenses, the Rutledges, the 
Pinckneys, the Sumpters, the Marions Americans all whose fame 
is no more to be hemmed in by state lines than their talents and pat 
riotism were eapable of being circumscribed within the same narrow 
limits. In their day and generation, they served and honored the 
country, and the whole country; and their renown is of the treasures 
of the whole country. Him whose honored name the gentleman him 
self bears does he suppose me less capable of gratitude for his patri 
otism, or sympathy for his sufferings, than if his eyes had first opened 
upon the light in Massachusetts instead of South Carolina? Sir, does 
he suppose it is in his power to exhibit a Carolina name so bright as 
to produce envy in my bosom ? No, sir; increased gratification and 
delight, rather. 

Sir, I thank God that if I am gifted with little of the spirit which is 
said to be able to raise mortals to the skies, I have yet none, as I 
trust, of that other spirit, which woulS drag angels down. When I 
shall be found, sir, in my place here in the Senate, or elsewhere, to 
sneer at public merit, because it happened to spring up beyond the 
little limits of my own state, or neighborhood; when I refuse, for any 
such cause, or for any cause, the homage due to American talent, to 
elevated patriotism, to sincere devotion to liberty and the country; or 
if I see an uncommon endowment of Heaven, if I see extraordinary 
capacity and virtue in any son of the south, and if, moved by local 
prejudice, or gangrened by state jealousy, I get up here to abate the 
tithe of a hair from his just character and just fame, may my tongue 
cleave to the roof of my mouth ! Sir, let me recur to pleasing recol 
lections; let me indulge in refreshing remembrance of the past; let 
me remind you that in early times no states cherished greater har 
mony, both of principle and feeling, than Massachusetts and South 
Carolina. Would to God that harmony might again return. Shoulder 
to shoulder they went through the revolution; hand in hand they stood 
round the administration of Washington, and felt his own great arm 
lean on them for support. Unkind feeling, if it exist, alienation, and 
distrust are the growth, unnatural to such soils, of false principles 
since sown. They are weeds, the seeds of which that same great arm 
never scattered. 

Mr. President, I shall enter on no encomium upon Massachusetts-- 1 


she needs none. There she is behold her, and judge for yourselves. 
There is her history the world knows it by heart. The past, at least, 
is secure. There is Boston, and Concord, and Lexington, and Bunker 
Hill; and there they will remain forever. The bones of her sons, 
fallen in the great struggle for independence, now lie mingled with the 
soil of every state from New England to Georgia; and there they will 
lie forever. And, sir, where American liberty raised its first voice, 
and where its youth was nurtured and sustained, there it still lives, in 
the strength of its manhood, and full of its original spirit. If discord 
and disunion shall wound it; if party strife and blind ambition shall 
hawk at and tear it; if folly and madness, if uneasiness under salu 
tary and necessary restraint, shall succeed to separate it from that 
Union by which alone its existence is made sure, It will stand, in the 
end, by the side of that cradle in which its infancy was rocked; it vail 
stretch forth its arm, with whatever vigor it may still retain, over the 
friends who gather round it; and it will fall at last, if fall it must, 
amidst the proudest monuments of its own glory, and on the very spot 
of its origin. 

There yet remains to be performed, Mr. President, by far the mo t 
grave and important duty which I feel to be devolved on me by th s 
occasion. It is to state, and to defend, what I conceive to be the true 
principles of the constitution under \vhich we are here assembled. I 
might well have desired that so weighty a task should have fallen into 
other and abler hands. I could have wished that it should have been 
executed by those whose character and experience give weight and in 
fluence to their opinions, such as cannot possibly belong to mine. Buf, 
sir, I have met the occasion, not sought it; and I shall proceed to state 
my own sentiments, without challenging for them any particular re 
gard, with studied plainness and as much precision as possible. 

I understand the honorable gentleman from South Carolina to main 
tain that it is .a right of the state legislatures to interfere, whenever, in 
their judgment, this government transcends its constitutional limits, 
and to arrest the operation of its laws. 

I understand him to maintain this right as a right existing under the 
constitution, not as a right to overthrow it, on the ground of extreme 
necessity, such as would justify violent revolution. 

I understand him to maintain an authority, on the part of the states, 
thus to interfere, for the purpose of correcting the exercise of power 
by the general government, of checking it, and of compelling it to 
coniorm to their opinion of the extent of its power. 

I understand him to maintain that the ultimate power of judging of 
the constitutional extent of its own authority is not lodged exclusively in 
the general government or any branch of it; but that on the contrary, 
the states may lawfully decide for themselves, and each state for itself, 
whether, in a given case, the act of the general government transcends 
its power. 


I understand him to insist that, if the exigency of the case, in the 
opinion of any state government, require it, such state government 
may, by its own sovereign authority, annul an act of the general gov 
ernment which it deems plainly and palpably unconstitutional. 

This is the sum of what I understand from him to be the South Caro 
lina doctrine. I propose to consider it, and to compare it with the con 
stitution. Allow me to say, as a preliminary remark, that I call this 
the South Carolina doctrine, only because the gentleman himself has 
so denominated it. I do not feel at liberty to say that South Carolina, 
as a state, has ever advanced these sentiments. I hope she has not, 
and never may. That a great majority of her people are opposed to 
the tariff laws is doubtless true. That a majority, somewhat less than 
that just mentioned, conscientiously believe these laws unconstitution 
al, may probably also be true. But that any majority holds to the 
right of direct state interference, at state discretion, the right of nulli 
fying acts of Congress by acts of state legislation, is more than I know, 
and what I shall be slow to believe. 

That there are individuals, besides the honorable gentleman, who do 
maintain these opinions, is quite certain. I recollect the recent ex 
pression of a sentiment which circumstances attending its utterance 
and publication justify us in supposing was not unpremeditated "The 
sovereignty of the state; never to be controlled, construed, or decided 
on, but by her own feelings of honorable justice." 

[Mr. Hayne here rose, and said, that, for the purpose of being 
clearly understood, he would state that his proposition was in the words 
of the Virginian resolution, as follows. 

" That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that 
it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the 
compact to which the states are parties, as limited by the plain sense 
and intention of the instrument constituting that compact, as no further 
valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that com 
pact; and that, in case of a deliberate, palpable and dangerous exercise 
of other powers not granted by the said compact, the states who are 
parties thereto have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for 
arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their 
respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties pertaining to 

Mr. Webster resumed: 

I am quite aware, Mr. President, of the existence of the resolution 
which the gentleman read, and has now repeated, and that he relies ou 
it as his authority. I know the source, too, from which it is under 
stood to have proceeded. I need not say, that I have much respect 
for the constitutional opinions cf Mr. Madison ; they would weigh 
greatly with me, always. But, before the authority of his opinion be 
vouched for the gentleman s proposition, it will be proper to consider 
what is the fair interpretation of that resolution, to which Mr, Madi- 


son is understood to have given his sanction. As the gentleman con 
strues it, it is an authority for him. Possibly he may not have adopted 
the right construction. That resolution declares, that in the case of 
the dangerous exercise of powers not granted by the general govern 
ment, the states may interpose to arrest the progress of the evil. But 
how interpose ? and what does this declaration purport ? Does it 
mean no more than that there may be extreme cases in which the peo 
ple, in any mode of assembling, may resist usurpation, and relieve 
themselves from a tyrannical government ? No one will deny this. 
Such resistance is not only acknowledged to be just in America, but 
in England also. Blackstone admits as much, in the theory and prac 
tice, too, of the English constitution. We, sir, who oppose the Caro 
lina doctrine, do not deny that the people may, if they choose, throw 
off any government, when it becomes oppressive and intolerable, and 
erect a better in its stead. We all know that civil institutions are es 
tablished for the public benefit, and that, when they cease to answer 
the ends of their existence, they may be changed. 

But I do not understand the doctrine now contended for to be that 
which, for the sake of distinctness, we may call the right of revolution. 
I understand the gentleman to maintain, that without revolution, with 
out civil commotion, without rebellion, a remedy for supposed abuse 
and transgression of the powers of the general government lies in a 
direct appeal to the interference of the state governments. [Mr. 
Hayne here rose: He did not contend, he said, for the mere right of 
revolution, but for the right of constitutional resistance. W T hat he 
maintained was, that, in case of a plain, palpable violation of the con 
stitution by the general government, a state may interpose; and that 
this interposition is constitutional.] Mr. Webster resumed: 

So, sir, I understood the gentleman, and am happy to find that I did 
not misunderstand him. What he contends for is, that it is constitu 
tional to interrupt the administration of the Constitution itself, in the 
hands of those who are chosen and sworn to administer it, by the 
direct interference, in form of law, of the states, in virtue of their sov 
ereign capacity. The inherent right in the people to reform their gov 
ernment I do not deny; and they have another right, and that is, to 
resist unconstitutional laws without overturning the government. It 
is no doctrine of mine, that unconstitutional laws bind the people. 
The great question is. Whose prerogative is it to decide on the consti 
tutionality or unconstitutionality of the laws? On that the main 
debate hinges. The proposition that, in case of a supposed violation 
of the Constitution by Congress, the states have a constitutional right 
to interfere and annul the law of Congress, is the proposition of the 
gentleman; I do not admit it. If the gentleman had intended no more 
than to assert the right of revolution for justifiable cause, he would 
have said only what all agree to. But I cannot conceive that there 
can be a middle course between submission to the laws, when regu- 


larly pronounced constitutional on the one hand, and open resist 
ance, which is revolution or rebellion, on the other. I say the 
right of a state to annul a law of Congress cannot be maintained but 
on the ground of the unalienable right of man to resist oppression; 
that is to say upon the ground of revolution. I admit that there is an 
ultimate violent remedy, above the Constitution, and in defiance of 
the Constitution, which may be resorted to, when a revolution is to be 
justified. But I do not admit that, under the Constitution, and in con 
formity with it, there is any mode in which a state government as a 
member of the Union, can interfere and stop the progress of the 
general government, by force of her own laws, under any circum 
stances whatever. 

This leads us to inquire into the origin of this government, and the 
source of its power. Whose agent is it? Is it the creature of the state 
legislatures, or the creature of the people ? If the Government of the 
United States be the agent of the state governments, then they may 
control it, provided they can agree in the manner of controlling it; if 
it is the agent of the people, then the people alone can control it, 
restrain it, modify or reform it. It is observable enough, that the 
doctrine for which the honorable gentleman contends, leads him to the 
necessity of maintaining, not only that this general government is the 
creature of the states, but that it is the creature of each of the states 
severally; so that each may assert the power, for itself, of determining 
whether it acts within the limits of its authority. It is the servant of 
four and twenty masters, of different wills and different purposes; 
and yet bound to obey all. This absurdity (for it seems no less) 
arises from a misconception as to the origin of this government, and 
its true character. It is, sir, the people s constitution, the people s 
government; made for the people; made by the people; and answera 
ble to the people. The people of the United States have declared 
that this Constitution shall be the supreme law. We must either admit 
the proposition, or dispute their authority. The states are unques 
tionably sovereign, so far as their sovereignty is not affected by this 
supreme law. The state legislatures, as political bodies, however 
sovereign, are yet not sovereign over the people. So far as the people 
have given power to the general government, so for the grant is un 
questionably good, and the government holds of the people, and not 
of the state governments. We are all agents of the same supreme 
power, the people. The general government and the state govern 
ments derive their authority from the same source. Neither can, in 
relation to the other, be called primary; though one is definite and re 
stricted, and the other general and residuary. 

The national government posseses those powers which it can be 
shown the people have conferred on it, and no more. All the rest be 
longs to the state governments, or to the people themselves. So far as 
the people have restrained state sovereignty by the expression of their 


will, in the Constitution of the United States, so far, it must be ad 
mitted, state sovereignty is effectually controlled. I do not contend 
that it is, or ought to be, controlled further. The sentiment to which 
I have referred propounds that state sovereignty is only to be con 
trolled by its own "feeling of justice;" that is to say, it is not to be 
controlled at all, for one who is to follow his feelings, is under no legal 
control. Now, however men may think this ought to be, the fact is, that 
the people of the United States have chosen to impose control on 
state sovereignties. The Constitution has ordered the matter differ 
ently from what this opinion announces. To make war, for instance, 
is an exercise of sovereignty; but the Constitution declares that no 
state shall make war. To coin money is another exercise of sovereign 
power; but no state is at liberty to coin money. Again: the Consti 
tution says, that no sovereign state shall be so sovereign as to make a 
treaty. These prohibitions, it must be confessed, are a control on the 
state sovereignty of South Carolina, as well as of the other states, which 
does not arise " from her own feelings of honorable justice." Such 
an opinion; therefore, is in defiance of the plainest provisions of the 

There are other proceedings of public bodies which have already 
been alluded to, and to which I refer again for the purpose of ascer 
taining more fully what is the length and breadth of that doctrine, 
denominated the Carolina doctrine, which the honorable member has 
now stood up on this floor to maintain. 

In one of them I find it resolved that " the tariff of 1828, and every 
other tariff designed to promote one branch of industry at the expense 
of others, is contrary to the meaning and intention of the federal com 
pact; and as such, a dangerous, palpable, and deliberate usurpation of 
power, by a determined majority, wielding the general government 
beyond the limits of its delegated powers, as calls upon the states 
which compose the suffering minority, in their sovereign capacity, to 
exercise the powers which, as sovereigns, necessarily devolve upon 
them, when their compact is violated." 

Observe, sir, that this resolution holds t^e tariff of 1828, and every 
other tariff, designed to promote one branch of industry at the expense 
of another, to be such a dangerous, palpable, and deliberate usurpa 
tion of power, as calls upon the states, in their sovereign capacity to 
interfere by their own power. This denunciation, Mr. President, you 
will please to observe, includes our old tariff of 1816, as well as ail 
others; because that was established to promote the interest of the 
manufactures of cotton, to the manifest and admitted injury of the Cal 
cutta cotton trade, Observe, again, that all the qualifications are here 
rehearsed, and charged upon the tariff, which are necessary to bring 
the case within the gentleman s proposition. The tariff is a usurpa 
tion; it is a dangerous usurpation; it is a palpable usurpation; it is 
a deliberate usurpation. It is such a usurpation as calls upon the 


states to exercise their right of interference. Here is a. case then, 
within the gentleman s principles, and all his qualifications of his 
principles. It is a case for action. The Constitution is plainly, dan 
gerously, palpably, and deliberately violated; and the states must in 
terpose their own authority to arrest the law. Let us suppose the state of 
South Carolina to express the same opinion, by the voice of her legis 
lature. That would be very imposing; but what then? Is the voice 
of one state conclusive? It so happens that, at the very moment 
when South Carolina resolves that the tariff laws are unconstitutional, 
Pennsylvania and Kentucky resolve exactly the reverse. They hold 
those laws to be both highly proper and strictly constitutional. And 
now, sir, how does the honorable member propose to deal with this 
case? How does he get out of this difficulty, upon any principle of 
his? His construction gets us into it; how does he propose to get us 

In Carolina, the tariff is a palpable, deliberate usurpation. Caro 
lina, therefore, may nullify it, and refuse to pay the duties. In Penn 
sylvania, it is both clearly constitutional and highly expedient; and 
there the duties are to be paid. And yet we live under a government 
of uniform laws, and under a constitution, too, which contains an ex 
press provision, as it happens, that all duties shall be equal in all the 
states! Does not this approach absurdity? 

If there be no power to settle such questions, independent of either 
of the states, is not the whole Union a rope of sand ? Are we not 
thrown back again precisely upon the old confederation ? 

It is too plain to be argued. Four and twenty interpreters of con 
stitutional law, each with a power to decide for itself, and none with 
authority to bind any body else, and this constitutional law the only 
bond of their union! What is such a state of things but a mere con 
nection during pleasure, or, to use the phraseology of the times, dur 
ing feeling? And that feeling, too, not the feeling of the people who 
established the constitution, but the feeling of the state governments. 

In another of the South Carolina addresses, having premised that 
the crisis requires "all the concentrated energy of passion," an atti 
tude of open resistance to the laws of the Union is advised. Open 
resistance to the laws, then, is the constitutional remedy, the conser 
vative power of the state, which the South Carolina doctrines teach 
for the redress of political evils, real or imaginary. And its authors 
further say that, appealing with confidence to the constitution itself to 
justify their opinions, they cannot consent to try their accuracy by the 
courts of justice. In one sense, indeed, sir, this is assuming an atti 
tude of open resistance in favor of liberty. But what sort of liberty? 
The liberty of establishing their own opinions, in defiance of the 
opinions of all others; the liberty of judging and of deciding exclu 
sively themselves, in a matter in which others have as much right to 
judge and decide as they; the liberty of placing their opinions above 


the judgment of all others, above the laws, and above the constitution. 
This is their liberty, and this is the fair result of the proposition con 
tended for by the honorable gentleman. Or it may be more properly 
said, it is identical with it, rather than a result from it. In the same 
publication we find the following: "Previously to our revolution, 
when the arm of oppression was stretched over New England, where 
did our northern brethern meet with a braver sympathy than that 
which sprung from the bosom of Carolinians ? We had no extortion, 
no oppression, no collision with the king s ministers, no navigation 
interests springing up, in envious rivalry of England." 

This seems extraordinary language. South Carolina no collision 
with the king s ministers in 1775! no extortion! no oppression! But, 
sir, it is also most significant language. Does any man doubt the 
purpose for which it was penned ? Can any one fail to see that it was 
designed to raise in the reader s mind the question, whether, at this 
time, that is to say, in 1828 South Carolina has any collision with 
the king s ministers, any oppression, or extortion, to fear from Eng 
land ? whether, in short, England is not as naturally the friend of 
South Carolina as New England, with her navigation interests spring 
ing up in envious rivalry of England ? 

Is it not strange, sir, that an intelligent man in South Carolina, in 
1828, should thus labor to prove, that, in 1775, there was no hostility, 
no cause of war, between South Carolina and England ? that she had 
no occasion, in reference to her own interest, or from a regard to her 
own welfare, to take up arms in the revolutionary contest? Can any 
one account for the expression of such strange sentiments, and their 
circulation through the state, otherwise than by supposing the object 
to be, what I have already intimated, to raise the question, if they had 
no "collision" (mark the expression) with the ministers of King 
George the Third, in 1775, what collision have they, in 1828, with the 
ministers of King George the Fourth ? What is there now, in the ex 
isting state of things, to separate Carolina from Old, more, or rather 
less, than from New England? 

Resolutions, sir, have been recently passed by the legislature of 
South Carolina. I need not refer to them; they go no further than 
the honorable gentleman himself has gone and I hope not so far. 
I content myself, therefore, with debating the matter with him. 

And now, sir, what I have first to say on this subject is, that at no 
time, and under no circumstances, has New England, or any state in 
New England, or any respectable body of persons in New England, 
or any public man of standing in New England, put forth such a doc 
trine as this Carolina doctrine. 

The gentleman has found no case he can find none to support his 
own opinions by New England authority. New England has studied 
the constitution in other schools, and under other teachers. She looks 
upon it with other regards, and deems more highly and reverently, 


both of its just authority and its utility and excellence. The history 
of her legislative proceedings may be traced the ephemeral effusions 
of temporary bodies, called together by the excitement of the occasion, 
may be hunted up they have been hunted up. The opinions and 
votes of her public men, in and out of Congress, may be explored it 
will all be in vain. The Carolina doctrine can derive from her neither 
countenance nor support. She rejects it now; she always did reject 
it; and till she loses her senses, she always will reject it. The honor 
able member has referred to expressions on the subject of the embargo 
law, made in this place by an honorable and venerable gentleman 
(Mr. Hillhouse) now favoring us with his presence. He quotes that 
distinguished senator as saying, that in his judgment the embargo law 
was unconstitutional, and that, therefore, in his opinion, the people 
were not bound to obey it. 

That, sir, is perfectly constitutional language. An unconstitutional 
law is not binding; but then it does not rest- with a resolution or a law 
of a state legislature to decide whether an act of Congress be or be 
not constitutional. An unconstitutional act of Congress would not 
bind the people of this District, although they have no legislature to 
interfere in their behalf; and, on the other hand, a constitutional law 
of Congress does bind the citizens of every state, although all their 
legislatures should undertake to annul it, by act or resolution. The 
venerable Connecticut senator is a constitutional lawyer, of sound prin 
ciples and enlarged knowledge; a statesman practised and experi 
enced, bred in the company of Washington, and holding just views 
upon the nature of our governments. He believed the embargo un 
constitutional, and so did others; but what then? Who did he suppose 
was to decide that question ? The state legislatures ? Certainly not. 
No such sentiment ever escaped his lips. Let us follow up, sir, this 
New England opposition to the embargo laws; let us trace it, till we 
discern the principle which controlled and governed New England 
throughout the whole course of that opposition. We shall then see 
what similarity there is between the New England school of constitu 
tional opinions and this modern Carolina school. The gentleman, I 
think, read a petition from some single individual, addressed to the 
legislature of Massachusetts, asserting the Carolina doctrine that is, 
the right of state interference to arrest the laws of the Union. The 
fate of that petition shows the sentiment of the legislature. It met 
no favor. The opinions of Massachusetts were otherwise. They had 
been expressed in 1798, in answer to the resolutions of Virginia, and 
she did not depart from them, nor bend them to the times. Misgov 
erned, wronged, oppressed, as she felt herself to be, she still held fast 
her integrity to the Union. The gentleman may find in her proceed 
ings much evidence of dissatisfaction with the measures of govern 
ment, and great and deep dislike to the embargo; all this makes the 
case so much the stronger for her; for, notwithstanding all this dis- 


satisfaction and dislike, she claimed no right still to sever asunder the 
bonds of the Union. There was heat and there was anger in her po 
litical feeling. Be it so. Her heat or her anger did not, nevertheless, 
betray her into infidelity to the government. The gentleman labors 
to prove that she disliked the embargo as much as South Carolina dis 
likes the tariff, and expressed her dislike as strongly. Be it so; but 
did she propose the Carolina remedy? Did she threaten to interfere, 
by state authority, to annul the laws of the Union? That is the ques 
tion for the gentleman s consideration. 

No doubt, sir, a great majority of the people of New England con 
scientiously believed the embargo law of 1807 unconstitutional as 
conscientiously, certainly, as the people of South Carolina hold that 
opinion of the tariff. They reasoned thus: Congress has power to 
regulate commerce; but here is a law, they said, stopping all com 
merce, and stopping it indefinitely. The law is perpetual; that is, it 
is not limited in point of time, and must of course continue till it shall 
be repealed by some other law. It is as perpetual, therefore, as the 
law against treason or murder. Now, is this regulating commerce, or 
destroying it? Is it guiding, controlling, giving the rule to commerce, 
as a subsisting thing, or is it putting an end to it altogether ? Nothing 
is more certain than that a majority in New England deemed this law 
a violation of the constitution. The very case required by the gentle 
man to justify state interference had then arisen. Massachusetts be 
lieved this law to be "a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise 
of a power not granted by the constitution." Deliberate it was, for it 
was long continued; palpable she thought it, as no words in the con 
stitution gave the power, and only a construction, in her opinion most 
violent, raised it; dangerous it was, since it threatened utter ruin to 
her most important interests. Here, then, was a Carolina case. How 
did Massachusetts deal with it? It was, as she thought, a plain, 
manifest, palpable violation of the constitution; and it brought ruin to 
her doors. Thousands of families, and hundreds of thousands of in 
dividuals, were beggared by it. While she saw and felt all this, she 
saw and felt, also, that, as a measure of national policy, it was per 
fectly futile; that the country was no way benefited by that which 
caused so much individual distress; that it was efficient only for the 
production of evil, and all that evil inflicted on ourselves. In such a 
case, under such circumstances, how did Massachusetts demean her 
self ? Sir, she remonstrated, she memorialized, she addressed herself 
to the general government, not exactly " with the concentrated energy 
of passion," but with her strong sense, and the energy of sober con 
viction. But she did not interpose the arm of her power to arrest the 
law, and break the embargo. Far from it. Her principles bound her 
to two things; and she followed her principles, lead where they might. 
First, to submit to every constitutional law of Congress; and secondly, 
if the constitutional validity of the law be doubted, to refer that ques- 


tion to the decision of the proper tribunals. The first principle is vain 
and ineffectual without the second. A majority of us in New England 
believed the embargo law unconstitutional; but the great question 
was, and always will be, in such cases, Who is to decide this ? Who 
is to judge between the people and the government ? And, sir, it is 
quite plain, that the constitution of the United States confers on the 
government itself, to be exercised by its appropriate department, this 
power of deciding, ultimately and conclusively, upon the just extent 
of its own authority. If this had not been done, we should not have 
advanced a single step beyond the old confederation. 

Being fully of opinion that the embargo law was unconstitutional, 
the people of New England were yet equally clear in the opinion it 
was a matter they did not doubt upon that the question, after all, 
must be decided by the judicial tribunals of the United States.. Be 
fore those tribunals, therefore, they brought the question. Under the 
provisions of the law they had given bonds, to millions in amount, 
and which were alleged to be forfeited. They suffered the bonds to 
be sued; and thus raised the question. In the old-fashioned way of 
settling disputes they went to law. The case came to hearing and 
solemn argument; and he who espoused their cause and stood up for 
them against the validity of the act, was none other than that great 
man, of whom the gentleman has made honorable mention, Samuel 
Dexter. He was then, sir, in the fulness of his knowledge and the 
maturity of his strength. He had retired from long and distinguished 
public service here, to the renewed pursuit of professional duties; car 
rying with him all that enlargement and expansion, all the new 
strength and force, which an acquaintance with the more general sub 
jects discussed in the national councils is capable of adding to profes 
sional attainment, in a mind of true greatness and comprehension. 
He was a lawyer, and he was also a statesman. He had studied the 
constitution, when he filled public station, that he might defend it; he 
had examined its principles, that he might maintain them. More 
than all men, or at least as much as any man, he was attached to the 
general government, and to the union of the states. His feelings and 
opinions all ran in that direction. A question of constitutional law, 
too, was, of all subjects, that one which was best suited to his talents 
and learning. Aloof from technicality, and unfettered by artificial 
rule, such a question gave opportunity for that deep and clear analysis, 
that mighty grasp of principle, which so much distinguished his higher 
efforts. His very statement was argument; his inference seemed dem 
onstration. The earnestness of his own conviction wrought convic 
tion in others. One was convinced, and believed, and assented, 
because it was gratifying, delightful, to think, and feel, and believe, 
in unison with an intellect of such evident superiority. 

Mr. Dexter, sir, such as I have described him, argued in the New 
England cause. He put into his effort his whole heart, as well as all 


the powers of his understanding; for he had avowed, in the most pub 
lic manner, his entire concurrence with his neighbors, on the point 
in dispute. He argued the cause; it was lost, and New England 
submitted. The established tribunals pronounced the law constitu 
tional, and New England acquiesced. Now, sir, is not this the exact 
opposite of the doctrine of the gentleman from South Carolina? 
According to him, instead of referring to the judicial tribunal, we 
should have broken up the embargo, by laws of our own; we should 
have repealed it, quoad New England ; for we had a strong, palpable, 
and oppressive case. Sir, we believed the embargo unconstitutional ; 
but still, that was matter of opinion, and who was to decide it? We 
thought it a clear case; but, nevertheless, we did not take the law into 
our hands, because we did not wish to bring about a revolution, nor to 
break up the Union; for I maintain, that between submission to the de 
cision of the constituted tribunals, and revolution, or disunion, there is 
no middle ground there is no ambiguous condition, half allegiance and 
half rebellion. There is no treason, madcosy. And, sir, how futile, 
how very futile it is, to admit the right of state interference, and then 
to attempt to save it from the character of unlawful resistance, by 
adding terms of qualification to the causes and occasions, leaving all 
the qualifications, like the case itself, in the discretion of the state 
governments. It must be a clear case, it is said ; a deliberate case; a 
palpable case; a dangerous case. But, then, the state is still left at 
liberty to decide for herself what is clear, what is deliberate, what is 
palpable, what is dangerous. 

Do adjectives and epithets avail any thing ? Sir, the human mind 
is so constituted, that the merits of both sides of a controversy appear 
very ciear, and very palpable, to those who respectively espouse them, 
and both sides usually grow clearer, as the controversy advances. 
South Carolina sees unconstitutionality in the tariff she sees oppres 
sion there, also, and she sees danger. Pennsylvania, with a vision 
not less sharp, looks at the same tariff, and sees no such thing in it 
she sees it all constitutional, all useful, all safe. The faith of South 
Carolina is strengthened by opposition, and she now not only sees, 
but resolves, that the tariff is palpably unconstitutional, oppressive, 
and dangerous; but Pennsylvania, not to be behind her neighbors, and 
equally willing to strengthen her own faith by a confident asseveration, 
resolves also, and gives to every warm affirmative of South Carolina, 
a plain, downright Pennsylvania negative. South Carolina, to show 
the strength and unity of her opinions, brings her Assembly to a 
unanimity, within seven votes; Pennsylvania, not to be outdone in 
this respect more than others, reduces her dissentient fraction to five 
votes. Now, sir, again I ask the gentleman, what is to be done ? 
Are these states both right ? Is he bound to consider them both 
right ? If not, which is in the wrong ? or, rather, which has the best 
right to decide ? 


And if he, and if I, are not to know what the constitution means, 
and what it is, till those two state legislatures, and the twenty-two 
others, shall agree in its construction, what have we sworn to, when 
we have sworn to maintain it ? I was forcibly struck, sir, with one 
reflection, as the gentleman went on with his speech. He quoted 
Mr. Madison s resolutions to prove that a state may interfere, in a 
case of deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of a power not 
granted. The honorable member supposes the tariff law to be such 
an exercise of power, and that, consequently, a case has arisen in 
which the state may, if it see fit, interfere by its own law. Now, it 
so happens, nevertheless, that Mr. Madison himself deems this same 
tariff law quite constitutional. Instead of a clear and palpable viola 
tion, it is, in his judgement, no violation at all. So that, while they 
use his authority for a hypothetical case, they reject it in the very 
case before them. All this, sir, shows the inherent futility I had 
almost used a stronger word of conceding this power of interfer 
ence to the states, and then attempting to secure it from abuse by 
imposing qualifications of which the states themselves are to judge. 
One of two things is true: either the laws of the Union are beyond 
the control of the states, or else AVC have no constitution of general 
government, and are thrust back again to the days of the confederacy. 

Let me here say, sir, that if the gentleman s doctrine had been re 
ceived and acted upon in New England, in the times of the embargo 
and non-intercourse, we should probably not now have been here. 
The government would very likely have gone to pieces and crumbled 
into dust. No stronger case can ever arise than existed under those 
laws; no states can ever entertain a clearer conviction than the New 
England States then entertained ; and if they had been under the 
influence of that heresy of opinion, as I must call it, which the hon 
orable member espouses, this Union would, in all probability, have 
been scattered to the four winds. I ask the gentleman, therefore, to 
apply his principles to that case; I ask him to come forth and declare 
whether, in his opinion, the New England States would have been 
justified in interfering to break up the embargo system, under the 
conscientious opinions which they held upon it. Had they a right 
to annul that law ? Does he admit, or deny ? If that which is thought 
palpably unconstitutional in South Carolina justified that state in 
arresting the progress of the law, tell me whether that which was 
thought palpably unconstitutional also in Massachusetts would have 
justified her in doing the same thing. Sir, I deny the whole doctrine. 
It has not a foot of ground in the constitution to stand on. No public 
man of reputation ever advanced it in Massachusetts, in the warmest 
times, or could maintain himself upon it there at any time. 

I wish now, sir, to make a remark upon the Virginia resolutions of 
1798. I cannot undertake to say how these resolutions were under 
stood by those who passed them. Their language is not a little 


indefinite. In the case of the exercise, by Congress, of a dangerous 
power, not granted to them, the resolutions assert the right, on the 
part of the state, to interfere, and arrest the progress of the evil. 
This is susceptible of more than one interpretation. It may mean no 
more than that the states may interfere by complaint and remon 
strance, or by proposing to the people an alteration of the federal 
constitution. This would all be quite unobjectionable; or it may be 
that no more is meant than to assert the general right of revolution, 
as against all governments, in cases of intolerable oppression. This 
no one doubts; and this, in my opinion, is all that he who framed 
these resolutions could have meant by it; for I shall not readily be 
lieve that he was ever of opinion that a state, under the constitu 
tion, and in conformity with it, could, tipon the ground of her own 
opinion of its unconstitutionality, however clear and palpable she 
might think the case, annul a law of Congress, so far as it should 
operate on herself, by her own legislative power. 

I must now beg to ask, sir, Whence is this supposed right of the 
states derived? Where do they get the power to interfere with the laws 
of the Union ? Sir, the opinion which the honorable gentleman main 
tains is a notion founded in a total misapprehension, in my judgment, 
of the origin of this government, and of the foundation on which it 
stands. I hold it to be a popular government, erected by the people, 
those who administer it responsible to the people, and itself capable of 
being amended and modified, just as the people may choose it should be. 
It is as popular, just as truly emanating from the people, as the state 
governments. It is created for one purpose ; the state governments for 
another. It has its own powers ; they have theirs. There is no more 
authority with them to arrest the operation of a law of Congress, than 
with Congress to arrest the operation of their laws. We are here to ad 
minister a constitution emanating immediately from the people, and 
trusted by them to our administration. It is not the creature of the 
state governments. It is of no moment to the argument that certain 
acts of the state legislatures are necessary to fill our seats in this body. 
That is not one of their original state powers, a part of the sovereignty 
of the state. It is a duty which the people, by the constitution itself, 
have imposed on the state legislatures, and which they might have left to 
be performed elsewhere, if they had seen fit. So they have left the 
choice of president with electors ; but all this does not affect the propo 
sition that this whole government president, Senate, and House of 
Representatives is a popular government. It leaves it still all its popu- 
ular character. The governor of a state (in some of the states) is chosen 
not directly by the people, but by those who are chosen by the people 
for the purpose of performing, among other duties, that of electing a 
governor. Is the government of the state on that account not a popular 
government? This government, sir, is the independent offspring of the 
popular will. It is not the creature of state legislatures, nay, more, 


if the whole truth must be told, the people brought it into existence, es 
tablished it, and have hitherto supported it, for the very purpose, 
amongst others, of imposing certain salutary restraints on state sove 
reignties. The states cannot now make war ; they cannot contract 
alliances ; they cannot make, each for itself, separate regulations of 
commerce ; they cannot lay imposts ; they cannot coin money. If this 
constitution, sir, be the creature of state legislatures, it must be admitted 
that it has obtained a strange control over the volitions of its creators. 

The people then, sir, erected this government. They gave it a con 
stitution, and in that constitution they have enumerated the powers 
which they bestow on it. They have made it a limited government. 
They have defined its authority. They have restrained it to the exercise 
of such powers as are granted ; and all others, they declare, are reserved 
to the states or the people. But, sir, they have not stopped here. If 
they had, they would have accomplished but half their work. No 
definition can be so clear as to avoid possibility of doubt ; no limitation 
So precise as to exclude all uncertainty. Who, then, slieill construe this 
grant of the people 1 Who shall interpret their will, where it may be 
supposed they have left it doubtful 1 With whom do they leave this 
ultimate right of deciding on the powers of the government ? Sir, they 
have settled all this in the fullest manner. They have left it with the 
government itself, in its appropriate branches. Sir, the very chief end, 
the main design for which the whole constitution was framed and 
adopted, was to establish a government that should not be obliged 
to act through state agency, or depend on state opinion and discretion. 
The people had had quite enough of that kind of government under 
the confederacy. Under that system, the legal action the applicatign 
of law to individuals belonged exclusively to the states. Congress 
could only recommend their acts were not of binding force till the 
states had adopted and sanctioned them. Are we in that condition still ? 
Are we yet at the mercy of state discretion and state construction 1 
Sir, if we are, then vain will be our attempt to maintain the con- 
j>tiUition uncle.: which we sit. 

But, sir, the people have wisely provided, in the constitution itself, a 
proper suitable mode and tribunal for settling questions of constitutional 
law. There are, in the constitution, grants of powers to Congress, and 
restrictions on those powers. There are also prohibitions on the states. 
Some authority must therefore necessarily exist, having the ultimate 
jurisdiction to fix and ascertain the interpretation of these grants, re 
strictions, and prohibitions. The constitution has itself pointed out, 
ordained, and established that authority. How has it accomplished this 
great and essential end? By declaring, sir. that " the constitution and 
the laws of the United States, made in pursuance thereof, shall be the 
supreme law of the land, anything in the constitution or laws of any state 
to the contrary notwithstanding." 

This, sir, was the first great step. By this, the supremacy of the con- 


stitution and laws of the United States is declared. The people so 
will it. No state law is to be valid which comes in conflict with the con 
stitution or any law of the United States. But who shall decide this 
question of interference ? To whom lies the last appeal ? This, sir, the 
constitution itself decides also, by declaring " that the judicial power 
shall extend to all cases arising under the constitution and laws of the 
United States." These two provisions, sir, cover the whole ground. 
They are, in truth, the keystone of the arch. With these it is a constitu 
tion ; without them it is a confederacy. In pursuance of these clear and 
express provisions, Congress established, at its very first session, in the 
judicial act, a mode for carrying them into full effect, and for bringing 
all questions of constitutional power to the final decision of the Supreme 
Court. It then, sir, became a government. It then had the means of 
self-protection ; and but for this, it would, in all probability, have been 
now among things which are passed. Having constituted the govern 
ment, and declared its powers, the people have further said, that since 
somebody must decide on the extent of these powers, the government 
shall itself decide subject always, like other popular governments, to 
its responsibility to the people. And now, sir, I repeat, how is it that a 
state legislature acquires any right to interfere ? Who, or what, gives 
them the right to say to the people, " We, who are your agents and ser 
vants for one purpose, will undertake to decide, that your other agents 
and servants appointed by you for another purpose, have transcended 
the authority you gave them?" The reply would be, I think, not im 
pertinent, " \Vho made you a judge over another s servants ? To their 
own masters they stand or fall. 

Sir, I deny this power of state legislatures altogether. It cannot 
stand the test of examination. Gentlemen may say, that, in an ex 
treme case, a state government might protect the people from intol- 
lerable oppression. Sir, in such a case the people might protect them 
selves, without the aid of the state governments. Such a case warrants 
revolution. It must make, when it comes, a law for itself. A nullifying 
act of a state legislature cannot alter the case, nor make resistance any 
more lawful In maintaining these sentiments, sir, I am but assert 
ing the rights of the people I state what they have declared, and 
insist on their right to declare it. They have chosen to repose this 
power in the general government, and I think it my duty to support 
it, like other constitutional powers. 

For myself, sir, I doubt the jurisdiction of South Carolina, or any 
other state, to prescribe my constitutional duty, or to settle, between 
me and the people, the validity of laws of Congress for which I have 
voted. I decline her umpirage. I have not sworn to support the 
constitution according to her construction of its clauses. I have not 
stipulated, by my oath of office or otherwise, to come under any re 
sponsibility, except to the people and those whom they have appointed 
to pass upon the question, whether the laws, supported by my votes, 


conform to the constitution of the country. And, sir, if we look to the 
general nature of the case, could any thing have been more preposter 
ous than to have made a government for the whole Union, and yet 
left its powers subject, not to one interpretation, but to thirteen or 
twenty-four interpretations ? Instead of one tribunal, established by 
all, responsible to all, with power to decide for all, shall constitutional 
questions be left to four and twenty popular bodies, each at liberty to 
decide for itself, and none bound to respect the decision of others; and 
each at liberty, too, to give a new construction, on every new election 
of its own members ? Would any thing, with such a principle in it, or 
rather with such a destitution of all principle, be fit to be called a gov 
ernment ? No, sir. It should not be denominated a constitution. It 
should be called, rather, a collection of topics for everlasting contro 
versy; heads of debate for a disputatious people. It would not be a 
government. It would not be adequate to any practical good, nor fit 
for any country to live under. To avoid all possibility of being mis 
understood, allow me to repeat again, in the fullest manner, that I 
claim no powers for the government by forced or unfair construction. 
I admit that it is a government of strictly limited powers, of 
enumerated, specified and particularized powers ; and that what 
soever is not granted is withheld. But, notwithstanding all this, 
and however the grant of powers may be expressed, its limits and 
extent may yet, in some cases, admit of doubt; and the general gov 
ernment would be good for nothing, it would be incapable of long 
existence, if some mode had not been provided in which those 
doubts, as they should arise, might be peaceably, but authoritatively, 

And now, Mr. President, let me run the honorable gentleman s doc 
trine a little into its practical application. Let us look at his probable 
modus operandi. If a thing can be done, an ingenious man can tell 
how it is to be done. Now, I wish to be informed how this state 
interference is to be put in practice. We will take the existing case of 
the tariff law. South Carolina is said to have made up her opinion 
upon it. If we do not repeal it (as we probably shall not), she will 
then apply to the case the remedy of her doctrine. She will, we must 
suppose, pass a law of her legislature, declaring the several acts of 
Congress, usually called the tariff laws, null and void, so far as they 
respect South Carolina, or the citizens thereof. So far, all is a paper 
transaction, and easy enough. But the collector at Charleston is col 
lecting the duties imposed by these tariff laws he, therefore, must be 
stopped. The collector will seize the goods if the tariff duties are not 
paid. The state authorities will undertake their rescue: the marshal, 
with his posse, will come to the collector s aid; and here the contest 
begins. The militia of the state will be called out to sustain the nulli 
fying act. They will march, sir, under a very gallant leader; for I 
believe the honorable member himself commands the militia of that 


part of the state. He will raise the nullifying act on his standard, and 
spread it out as his banner. It will have a preamble, bearing that 
the tariff laws are palpable, deliberate, and dangerous violations of the 
constitution, He will proceed, with his banner flying, to the custom 
house in Charleston, 

" all the while 
Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds." 

Arrived at the custom house, he will tell the collector that he must col 
lect no more duties under any of the tariff laws. This he will be some 
what puzzled to say, by the way, with a grave countenance, consider 
ing what hand South Carolina herself had in that of 1816. But, sir, 
the collector would, probably, not desist at his bidding. Here would 
ensue a pause; for they say, that a certain stillness precedes the tem 
pest. Before this military array should fall on the custom house, col 
lector, clerks, and all, it is very probable some of those composing it 
would request of their gallant commander-in-chief to be informed a 
little upon the point of law; for they have doubtless a just respect for 
his opinion as a lawyer, as well as for his bravery as a soldier. They 
know he has read Blackstone and the constitution, as well as Turenne 
and Vauban. They would ask him, therefore, something concerning 
their rights in this matter. They would inquire whether it was not 
somewhat dangerous to resist a law of the United States. What would 
be the nature of their offence, they would wish to learn, if they, by mili 
tary force and array, resisted the execution in Carolina of a law of the 
United States, and it should turn out, after all, that the law was con 
stitutional. He would answer, of course, treason. No lawyer could 
give any other answer. John Fries, he would tell them, had learned 
that some years ago. How then, they would ask, do you propose to 
defend us ? We are not afraid of bullets, but treason has a way of 
taking people off that we do not much relish. How do you propose 
to defend us ? " Look at my floating banner," he would reply; "sec 
there the nullifying law !" Is it your opinion, gallant commander, they 
\vould then say, that if we should be indicted for treason, that same 
iioating banner of yours would make a good plea in bar? "South 
Carolina is a sovereign state," he would reply. That is true; but 
would the judge admit our plea? "These tariff laws," he would re 
peat, "are unconstitutional, palpably, deliberately, dangerously." 
That all may be so; but if the tribunals should not happen to be of 
that opinion, shall we swing for it? We are ready to die for our 
country, but it is rather an awkward business, this dying without 
touching the ground. After all, this is a sort of hemp-tax, worse thai? 
any part of the tariff. 

Mr. President, the honorable gentleman would be in a dilemma 
like that of another great general. He would have a knot before him 
which he could not untie. He must cut it with his sword. He must 


say to his followers, Defend yourselves with your bayonets; and this 
is war civil war. 

Direct collision, therefore, between force and force, is the unavoida 
ble result of that remedy for the revision of unconstitutional laws 
which the gentleman contends for. It must happen in the very 
first case to which it is applied. Is not this the plain result? To 
resist, by force, the execution of a law, generally, is treason. Can 
the courts of the United States take notice of the indulgence of a state 
to commit treason ? The common saying, that a state cannot commit 
treason herself, is nothing to the purpose. Can it authorize others to 
do it? If John Fries had produced an act of Pennsylvania, annulling 
the law of Congress, would it have helped his case ? Talk about it as 
we will, these doctrines go the length of revolution. They are in 
compatible with any peaceable administration of the government. 
They lead directly to disunion and civil commotion; and therefore it 
is, that at the commencement, when they are first found to be main 
tained by respectable men and in a tangible form, that I enter my 
public protest against them all. 

The honorable gentleman argues, that if this government be the 
sole judge of the extent of its own powers, whether that right of judg 
ing be in Congress or the Supreme Court, it equally subverts state 
sovereignty. This the gentleman sees, or thinks he sees, although he 
cannot perceive how the right of judging, in this manner, if left to the 
exercise of state legislatures, has any tendency to subvert the govern 
ment of the Union. The gentleman s opinion may be that the right 
ought not to have been lodged with the general government; he may 
like better such a constitution as we should have under the right of 
state interference; but I ask him to meet me on the plain matter of 
fact I ask him to meet me on the constitution itself I ask him if the 
power is not found there clearly and visibly found there. 

But, sir, what is this danger, and what the grounds of it ? Let it te 
remembered, that the constitution of the United States is not unaltera 
ble. It is to continue in its present form no longer than the people 
who established it shall choose to continue it. If they shall become 
convinced that they have made an injudicious or inexpedient partition 
and distribution of power between the state governments and the 
general government, they can alter that distribution at will. 

If anything be found in the national constitution, either by original 
provision or subsequent interpretation, which ought not to be in it, 
the people know how to get rid of it. If any construction be estab 
lished, unacceptable to them, so as to become, practically, a part of 
the constitution, they will amend it at their own sovereign pleasure. 
But while the people choose to maintain it as it is, while they are sat 
isfied with it, and refuse to change it, who has given, or who can give, 
to the state legislatures a right to alter it, either by interference, con 
struction, or otherwise ? Gentlemen do not seem to recollect that the 


people have any power to do anything for themselves; they imagine 
there is no safety for them any longer than they are under the close 
guardianship of the state legislatures. Sir, the people have not trusted 
their safety, in regard to the general constitution, to these hands. 
They have required other security, and taken other bonds. They 
have chosen to trust themselves, first, to the plain words of the in 
strument, and to such construction as the government itself, in doubt 
ful cases, should put on its own powers, under their oaths of office, 
and subject to their responsibility to them; just as the people of a 
state trust their own state governments with a similar power. Sec 
ondly, they have reposed their trust in the efficacy of frequent elec 
tions, and in their own power to remove their own servants and 
agents, whenever they see cause. Thirdly they have reposed trust in 
the judicial power, which in order that it might be trustworthy, they 
have made as respectable, as disinterested, and as independent as 
practicable. Fourthly, they have seen fit to rely, in case of necessity, 
or high expediency, on their known and admitted power to alter or 
amend the constitution, peaceably and quietly, whenever experience 
shall point out defects or imperfections. And finally, the people of 
the United States have at no time, in no way, directly or indirectly, 
authorized any state legislature to construe or interpret their instru 
ment of government; much less to interfere, by their own power, to 
arrest its course and operation. 

If, sir, the people, in these respects, had done otherwise than they 
have done, their constitution could neither have been preserved, nor 
would it have been worth preserving. And if its plain provision shall 
now be disregarded, and these new doctrines interpolated in it, it will 
become as feeble and helpless a being as enemies, whether early or 
more recent, could possibly desire. It will exist in every state, but 
as a poor dependant on state permission. It must borrow leave to be, 
and will be, no longer than state pleasure, or state discretion, sees fit 
to grant the indulgence, and to prolong its poor existence. 

But, sir, although there are fears, there are hopes also. The people 
have preserved this, their own chosen constitution, for forty years, 
and have seen their happiness, prosperity, and renown grow with its 
growth and strengthen with its strength. They are now, generally, 
strongly attached to it. Overthrown by direct assault it cannot be; 
evaded, undermined, nullified, it will not be, if we, and those who 
shall succeed us here, as agents and representatives of the people, 
shall conscientiously and vigilantly discharge the two great branches 
of our public trust faithfully to preserve and wisely to administer it. 

Mr. President, I have thus stated the reasons of my dissent to the 
doctrines which have been advanced and maintained. I am conscious 
of having detained you, and the Senate, much too long. I was drawn 
into the debate, with no previous deliberation such as is suited to the 
discussion of so grave and important a subject. But it is a subject of 


which my heart is full, and I have not been willing to suppress the 
utterance of its spontaneous sentiments. 

I cannot, even now, persuade myself to relinquish it, without express 
ing, once more, my deep conviction, that since it respects nothing less 
than the union of the states, it is of most vital and essential importance 
to the public happiness. I profess, sir, in my career hitherto, to have 
kept steadily in view the prosperity and honor of the whole country, 
and the preservation of our Federal Union. It is to that Union we 
owe our safety at home, and our consideration and dignity abroad. 
It is to that Union that we are chiefly indebted for whatever makes us 
most proud of our country. That Union we reached only by the dis 
cipline of our virtues in the severe school of adversity. It had its 
origin in the necessities of disordered finance, prostrate commerce, 
and ruined credit. Under its benign influences, these great interests 
immediately awoke, as from the dead, and sprang forth with newness 
of life. Every year of its duration has teemed with fresh proofs of its 
utility and its blessings; and although our territory has stretched out 
wider and wider and our population spread farther and farther, they 
have not outrun its protection or its benefits. It has been to us all a 
copious fountain of national, social, personal happiness. I have not 
allowed myself, sir, to look beyond the Union, to see what might lie 
hidden in the dark recesses behind. I have not coolly weighed the 
chances of preserving liberty, when the bonds that unite us together 
shall be broken asunder. I have not accustomed myself to hang over 
the precipice of disunion, to see whether, with my short sight, I can 
fathom the depth of the abyss below; nor could I regard him as a safe 
counsellor in the affairs of this government, whose thoughts should be 
mainly bent on considering, not how the Union should be best pre 
served, but how tolerable might be the condition of the people when 
it shall be broken up and destroyed. While the Union lasts, we have 
high, exciting, gratifying prospects spread out before us, for us and 
our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God 
grant that, in my day at least, that curtain may not rise. God grant 
that on my vision never may be opened what lies behind. When my 
eyes shall be turned to behold, for the last time, the sun in heaven, 
may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments 
of a once glorious Union; on states dissevered, discordant, belliger 
ent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in frater 
nal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance, rather, behold 
the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known and honored through 
out the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming 
in their original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, not a single 
star obscured bearing for its motto no such miserable interrogatory 
as, What is all this worth ? nor those other words of delusion and 
folly, Liberty first, and Union afterwards; but everywhere, spread all 
over in characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they 
A P.-10. 


float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the 
whole heavens, that oth,er sentiment, dear to every true American 
heart Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable! 

Boston, September 17, 1830. 

If, after this general survey of the surface of New England, we cast 
our eyes on the cities and great towns, with what wonder should we 
behold, did not familiarity render the phenomenon almost unnoticed, 
men, combined in great multitudes, possessing freedom and the con 
sciousness of strength, the comparative physical power of the ruler 
less than that of a cobweb across a lion s path, yet orderly, obedient, 
and respectful to authority; a people, but no populace; every class in 
reality existing which the general law of society acknowledges, except 
one, and this exception characterizing the whole country. The soil 
of New England is trodden by no slave. In our streets, in our assem 
blies, in the halls of election and legislation, men of every rank and 
condition meet, and unite or divide on other principles, and are actu 
ated by other motives than those growing out of such distinctions. 
The fears and jealousies which in other countries separate classes of 
men, and make them hostile to each other, have here no influence, or 
a very limited one. Each individual, of whatever condition, has the 
consciousness of living under known laws, which secure equal rights, 
and guarantee to each whatever portion of the goods of life, be it 
great or small, chance or talent or industry may have bestowed. All 
perceive that the honors and rewards of society are open equally to 
the fair competition of all, that the distinctions of wealth or of power, 
are not fixed in families, that whatever of this nature exists to-day 
may be changed to-morrow, or, in a coming generation, be absolutely 
reversed. Common principles, interests, hopes, and affections are thG 
result of universal education. Such are the consequences of the 
equality of rights, and of the provisions for the general diffusion of 
knowledge, and the distribution of intestate estates, established by the 
laws framed by the earliest emigrants to New England. 

If from our cities we turn to survey the wide expanse of the inter 
ior, how do the effects of the institutions and example of our early 
ancestors appear, in all the local comfort and accommodation which 
mark the general condition of the whole country ! unobtrusive indeed, 
but substantial; in nothing splendid, but in everything sufficient and 
satisfactory. Indications of active talent and practical energy exist 
everywhere. With a soil comparatively little luxuriant, and in great 


proportion either rock, or hill, or sand, the skill and industry of man 
are seen triumphing over the obstacles of nature; making the rock the 
guardian of the field; moulding the granite, as though it were clay; 
leading cultivation to the hill top, and spreading over the arid plain 
hitherto unknown and unanticipated harvests. The lofty mansion of the 
prosperous adjoins the lowly dwelling of the husbandman; their re 
spective inmates are in daily interchange of civility, sympathy, and 
respect. Enterprise and skill, which once held chief affinity with the 
ocean or the sea-board, now begin to delight the interior, haunting our 
rivers, where the music of the waterfall, with powers more attractive 
than those of the fabled harp of Orpheus, collects around it intellectual 
man and material nature. Towns and cities, civilized and happy 
communities; rise, like exhalations, on rocks and in forests, till the 
deep and far-sounding voice of the neighboring torrent is itself lost 
and unheard, amid the predominating noise of successful and rejoicing 

What lessons has New England, in every period of her history, 
given to the world \ What lessons do her condition and example still 
give ! How unprecedented, yet how practical ! How simple, yet how 
powerful ! She has proved that all the variety of Christian sects may 
live together in harmony, under a government which allows equal 
privileges to all, exclusive pre-eminence to none. She has proved 
that ignorance among the multitude is not necessary to order, but that 
the surest basis of perfect order is the information of the people. She 
has proved the old maxim, that " no government, except a despotism 
with a standing army, can subsist where the people have arms," to be 
false. Ever since the first settlement of the country, arms have been 
required to be in the hands of the whole multitude of New England; 
yet the use of them in a private quarrel, if it have ever happened, is 
so rare, that a late writer of great intelligence, who had passed his 
whole life in New England, and possessed extensive means of infor 
mation, declares, "I know not a single instance of it." She has 
proved that a people of a character essentially military ma}^ subsist 
without duelling. New England has at all times been distinguished, 
both on the land and on the ocean, for a daring, fearless, and enter 
prising spirit; "yet the same Avriter asserts that, during the whole period 
of her existence, her soil has been disgraced but by five duels, and that 
only two of these were fought by her native inhabitants ! Perhaps 
this assertion is not minutely correct. There can, however, be no 
question that it is sufficiently near the truth to justify the position for 
which it is here adduced, and which the history of New England, as 
well as the experience of her inhabitants, abundantly confirms, that, 
in the present and in every past age, the spirit of our institutions has, 
to every important practical purpose, annihilated the spirit of duelling. 

Such are the true glories of the institutions of our fathers ! Such 
the natural fruits of that patience in toil, that frugality of disposition, 

2 !: 2 A M ERIC A N PA 7 AY TISM. 

that temperance of habit, that general diffusion of knowledge, and that 
sense of religious responsibility, inculcated by the precepts, and exhi 
bited in the example, of every generation of our ancestors ! 

And now, standing at this hour on the dividing line which separates 
the ages that are passed from those which are to come, how solemn is 
the thought, that not one of this vast assembly not one of that great 
multitude who now throng our streets, rejoice in our fields, and make 
oar hills echo with their gratulations shall live to witness the next 
return of the era we this day celebrate ! The dark veil of futurity 
conceals from human sight the fate of cities and nations, as well as of 
individuals. Man passes away; generations are but shadows; there 
i> nothing stable but truth; principles only are immortal. 

What, then, in conclusion of this great topic, are the elements of 
the liberty, prosperity, and safety which the inhabitants of New Eng 
land at this day enjoy ? In what language, and concerning what com 
prehensive truths, does the wisdom of former times address the 
inexperience of the future? 

These elements are simple, obvious, and familiar. 

Every civil and religious blessing of New England all that here 
gives happiness to human life, or security to human virtue is alone 
to be perpetuated in the forms and under the auspices of a free com 

The commonwealth itself has no other strength or hope than the 
intelligence and virtue of the individuals that compose it. 

For the intelligence and virtue of individuals there is no other 
human assurance than laws providing for the education of the whole 

These laws themselves have no strength, or efficient sanction, ex 
cept in the moral and accountable nature of man disclosed in the 
records of the Christian faith; the right to read, to construe, and to judge 
concerning which belongs to no class or caste of men, but exclusively 
to the individual, who must stand or fall by his own acts and his own 
faith, and not by those of another. 

The great comprehensive truths, written in letters of living light on 
every page of our history, the language addressed by every past age 
of New England to all future ages, is this: Human happiness has no 
perfect security but freedom; freedom none but virtue; virtue, none 
but knowledge; and neither freedom, nor virtue, nor knowledge has 
any vigor, or immortal hope, except in the principles of the Christian 
faith, and in the sanctions of the Christian religion. 

Men of Massachusetts ! citizens of Boston ! descendants of the early 
emigrants! consider your blessings; consider your duties. You have an 
inheritance acquired by the labors and sufferings of six successive gen 
erations of ancestors. They founded the fabric of your prosperity in a 
severe and masculine morality, having intelligence for its cement, and 
re i r ,on for its groundwork. Continue to build on the same foundation, 


and by the same principles; let the extending temple of your country s 
freedom rise, in the spirit of ancient times, in proportions of intellec 
tual and moral architecture, just, simple, and sublime. As from the 
first to this day, let New England continue to be an example to the 
world of the blessings of a free government, and of the means and 
capacity of men to maintain it. And in all times to come, as in all 
times past, may Boston be among the foremost and boldest to exem 
plify and uphold whatever constitutes the prosperity, the happiness, 
and the glory of New England. 


Washington, December 19, 1832. 

Whereas a convention assembled in the State of South Carolina 
have passed an ordinance, by which they declare " That the several 
acts and parts of acts of the Congress of the United States, purport 
ing to be laws for the imposing of duties and imposts on the importa 
tion of foreign commodities, and now having actual operation and ef 
fect within the United States, and more especially," two acts for the 
same purposes passed on the 2gth of May, 1828, and on the I4th of 
July, 1832, "are unauthorized by the Constitution of the United 
States, and violate the true meaning and intent thereof, and are null 
and void, and no law," nor binding on the citizens of that State or its 
officers; and by said ordinance, it is further declared to be unlawful 
for any of thfc constituted authorities of the State or of the United 
States to enforce the payment of the duties imposed by the said acts 
within the same State, and that it is the duty of the legislature to 
pass such laws as may be necessary to give full effect to the said ordi 
nance ; 

And whereas, by the said ordinance, it is further ordained, that in 
no case of law or equity decided in the courts of said State, wherein 
shall be drawn in question the validity of the said ordinance, or of the 
acts of the legislature that may be passed to give it effect, or of the 
said laws of the United States, no appeal shall be allowed to the Su 
preme Court of the United States, nor shall any copy of the record be 
permitted or allowed for that purpose, and that any person attempt 
ing to take such appeal shall be punished as for a contempt of 
court ; 

And, finally, the said ordinance declares that the people of South 
Carolina will maintain the said ordinance at every hazard; and that 
they will consider the passage of any act by Congress abolishing or 
closing the ports of the said State, or otherwise obstructing the free 


ingress or egress of vessels to and from the said ports, or any other 
act of the federal government to coerce the State, shut up her ports, 
destroy or harass her commerce, or to enforce the said acts otherwise 
than through the civil tribunals of the country, as inconsistent with 
the longer continuance of South Carolina in the Union; and that the 
people of the said State will thenceforth hold themselves absolved 
from all further obligation to maintain or preserve their political con 
nexion with the people of the other States, and will forthwith proceed 
to organize a separate government, and do all other acts and things 
which sovereign and independent States may of right do. 

And whereas the said ordinance prescribes to the people of South 
Carolina a course of conduct in direct violation of their duty as citi 
zens of the United States,, contrary to the laws of their country, sub 
versive of its Constitution, and having for its object the destruction 
of the Union; that Union which, coeval with our political existence, 
led our fathers, without any other ties to unite them than those of pat 
riotism and a common cause, through a sanguinary struggle to a glo 
rious independence; that sacred Union, hitherto inviolate, which, 
perfected by our happy Constitution, has brought us, by the favor of 
heaven, to a state of prosperity at home, and high consideration 
abroad, rarely, if ever equalled in the history of nations. To pre 
serve this bond of our political existence from destruction, to main 
tain inviolate this state of national honor and prosperity, and to jus 
tify the confidence my fellow-citizens have reposed in me, I, Andrew 
Jackson, President of the United States, have thought proper to issue 
this my proclamation, stating my views of the Constitution and laws 
applicable to the measures adopted by the convention of South Caro 
lina, and to the reasons they have put forth to sustain them, declaring 
the course which duty will require me to pursue, and appealing to the 
understanding and patriotism of the people, warn them of the conse 
quences that must inevitably result from an observance of the dictates 
of the convention. 

Strict duty would require of me nothing more than the exercise of 
those powers with which I am now, or may hereafter be invested, for 
preserving the peace of the Union, and for the execution of the laws. 
But the imposing aspect which opposition has assumed in this case, 
by clothing itself with State authority, and the deep interest which 
the people of the United States must all feel in preventing a resort to 
stronger measures, while there is a hope that anything will be yielded 
to reasoning and remonstrance, perhaps demand, and will certainly 
justify, a full exposition to South Carolina and the nation of the views 
I entertain of this important question, as well as a distinct enun 
ciation of the course which my sense of duty will require me to pur 

The ordinance is founded, not on the indefeasible right of resisting 
acts which are plainly unconstitutional, and too oppressive to be en- 


dured, but on the strange position that any one State may not only 
declare an act of Congress void, but prohibit its execution; that they 
may do this consistently with the Constitution ;-that the true construc 
tion of that instrument permits a State to retain its place in the Union, 
and yet be bound by no other of its laws than those it may choose to 
consider as constitutional. It is true, they add, that to justify this ab 
rogation of a law, it must be palpably contrary to the Constitution ; 
but it is evident that, to give the right of resisting laws of that de 
scription, coupled with the uncontrolled right to decide what laws de 
serve that character, is to give the power of resisting all laws. For, 
as by the theory, there is no appeal, the reasons alleged by the State, 
good or bad, must prevail. If it should be said that public opinion is 
a sufficient check against the abuse of this power, it may be asked 
why it is not deemed a sufficient guard against the passage of an un 
constitutional act by Congress ? There is, however, a restraint in 
this last case, which makes the assumed power of a State more inde 
fensible, and which does not exist in the other. There are two ap 
peals from an unconstitutional act passed by Congress one to the 
judiciary, the other to the people and the States. There is no appeal 
from the State decision in theory, and the practical illustration shows 
that the courts are closed against an application to review it, both 
judges and jurors being sworn to decide in its favor. But reasoning 
on this subject is superfluous, when our social compact, in express 
terms, declares that the laws of the United States, its Constitution, 
and treaties made under it, are the supreme law of the land; and, for 
greater caution, adds " that the judges in every State shall be bound 
thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the con 
trary notwithstanding." And it may be asserted, without fear of refu 
tation, that no federative government could exist without a similar 
provision. Look for a moment to the consequence. If South Caro 
lina considers the revenue laws unconstitutional, and has a right to 
prevent their execution in the port of Charleston, there would be a 
clear constitutional objection to their collection in every other port, 
and no revenue could be collected anywhere, for all imposts must be 
equal. It is no answer to repeat that an unconstitutional law is no 
law, so long as the question of its legality is to be decided by the State 
itself ; for every law operating injuriously upon any local interest wilJ 
be perhaps thought, and certainly represented, as unconstitutional, 
and, as has been shown, there is no appeal. 

If this doctrine had been established at an earlier day the Union 
would have been dissolved in its infancy. The excise law in Pennsyl 
vania, the embargo and non-intercourse law in the eastern States, the 
carriage tax in Virginia, were all deemed unconstitutional, and were 
more unequal in their operation than any of the laws now complained 
of; but fortunately none of those states discovered that they had the 
right now claimed by South Carolina. The war into which we were 


forced to support the dignity of the nation and the rights of our citi 
zens might have ended in defeat and disgrace instead of victory and 
honor, if the states who supposed it a ruinous and unconstitutional 
measure had thought they possessed the right of nullifying the act by 
which it was declared, and denying supplies for its prosecution. 
Hardly and unequally as those measures bore upon several members 
of the Union, to the legislatures of none did this efficient and peace 
able remedy, as it is called, suggest itself. The discovery of this im 
portant feature in our Constitution was reserved to the present day. 
To the statesmen of South Carolina belongs the invention, and upon 
the citizens of that State will unfortunately fall the evils of reducing it 
to practice. 

If the doctrine of a state veto upon the laws of the Union carries 
with it internal evidence of its impracticable absurdity, our constitu 
tional history will also afford abundant proof that it would have been 
repudiated with indignation had it been proposed to form a feature in 
our government. 

In our colonial state, although depending on another power, we 
very early considered ourselves as connected by common interest with 
each other. Leagues were formed for common defence, and before 
the declaration of independence we were known in our aggregate 
character as the United Colonies of America. That decisive and im 
portant step was taken jointly. We declared ourselves a nation by a 
^bint, not by several acts, and when the terms of our confederation 
\vere reduced to form, it was in that of a solemn league of several 
states, by which they agreed that they would collectively form one 
nation for the purpose of conducting some certain domestic concerns 
and all foreign relations. In the instrument forming that Union is 
found an article which declares that "every state shall abide by the 
determinations of Congress on all questions which, by that confedera 
tion, should be submitted to them." 

Under the confederation, then, no state could legally annul a de 
cision of the Congress or refuse to submit to its execution; but no pro 
vision was made to enforce these decisions. Congress made requisi 
tions, but they were not complied with. The government could not 
operate on individuals. They had no judiciary, no means of collect 
ing revenue. 

But the defects of the confederation need not be detailed. Under 
its operation we could scarcely be called a nation. We had neither 
prosperity at home nor consideration abroad. This state of things 
could not be endured, and our present happy Constitution was formed, 
but formed in vain, if this fatal doctrine prevails. It was formed for 
important objects that are announced in the preamble made in the 
name and by the authority of the people of the United States, whose 
delegates framed and whose conventions approved it. The most 
important among these objects, that which is placed first in rank, 


is it possible that even if there were no express provision giving su 
premacy to the Constitution and laws of the United States over those 
of the states, can it be conceived that an instrument made for the pur 
pose of "forming a more perfect Union" than that of the confedera 
tion, could be so constructed by the assembled wisdom of our country 
as to substitute for that confederation a form of government depend 
ent for its existence on the local interest, the party spirit of a state, or 
of a prevailing faction in a state ? Every man of plain, unsophisti 
cated understanding, who hears the question, will give such an answer 
as will preserve the Union. Metaphysical subtlety, in pursuit of an 
impracticable theory, could alone have devised one that is calculated 
to destroy it. 

I consider, then, the power to annul a law of the United States, as 
sumed by one state, incompatible with the existence of the Union, 
contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized 
by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, 
and destructive of the great object for which it was formed. 

After this general view of the leading principle, we must examine 
the particular application of it which is made in the ordinance. 

The preamble rests its justification on these grounds: It assumes 
as a fact that the obnoxious laws, although they purport to be laws 
for raising revenue, were in reality intended for the protection of 
manufactures, which purpose it asserts to be unconstitutional; that 
the operation of these laws is unequal; that the amount raised by them 
is greater than is required by the wants of the government; and, 
finally, that the proceeds are to be applied to objects unauthorized by 
the Constitution. These are the only causes alleged to justify an open 
opposition to the laws of the country, and a threat of seceding from 
the Union if any attempt should be made to enforce them. The first 
virtually acknowledges that the law in question was passed under a 
power expressly given by the Constitution to lay and collect imposts; 
but its constitutionality is drawn in question from the motives of those 
who passed it. However apparent this purpose may be in the present 
case, nothing can be more dangerous than to admit the position that 
an unconstitutional purpose, entertained by the members who assent 
to a law enacted under a constitutional power, shall make that law 
void; for how is that purpose to be ascertained ? Who is to make the 
scrutiny ? How often may bad purposes be falsely imputed ! in how 
many cases are they concealed by false professions ! in how many is 
no declaration of motive made! Admit this doctrine, and you give to 
the states an uncontrolled right to decide, and every law may be an 
nulled under this pretext. If, therefore, the absurd and dangerous 
doctrine should be admitted that a state may annul an unconstitutional 
law, or one that it deems such, it will not apply to the present case. 

The next objection is, that the laws in question operate unequally. 


This objection may be made with truth to every law that has been or 
can be passed. The wisdom of man never yet contrived a system of 
taxation that would operate with perfect equality. If the unequal 
operation of a law makes it unconstitutional, and if all laws of that 
description may be abrogated by any state for that cause, then indeed 
is the federal Constitution unworthy of the slightest effort for its pres 
ervation. We have hitherto relied on it as the perpetual bond of our 
Union. We have received it as the work of the assembled wisdom of 
the nation. We have trusted to it as to the sheet-anchor of our safety 
in the stormy times of conflict with a foreign or domestic foe. We 
have looked to it with sacred awe as the palladium of our liberties, 
and with all the solemnities of religion have pledged to each other our 
lives and fortunes here and our hopes of happiness hereafter, in its 
defence and support. Were we mistaken, my countrymen, in attach 
ing this importance to the Constitution of our country ? Was our de 
votion paid to the wretched, inefficient, clumsy contrivance which this 
new doctrine would make it ? Did we pledge ourselves to the support 
of an airy nothing a bubble that must be blown away by the first 
breath of disaffection ? Was this self-destroying, visionary theory the 
work of the profound statesmen, the exalted patriots, to whom the 
task of constitutional reform was intrusted ? Did the name of Wash 
ington sanction did the states deliberately ratify such an anomaly in 
the history of fundamental legislation. No. We were not mistaken. 
The letter of this great instrument is free from this radical fault; its 
language directly contradicts the imputation; its spirit, its evident in 
tent, contradicts it. No, we did not err. Our Constitution does not 
contain the absurdity of giving power to make laws, and another 
power to resist them. The sages, whose memory will always be rev 
erenced, have given us a practical, and, as they hoped, a permanent 
constitutional compact. The Father of his Country did not affix his 
revered name to so palpable an absurdity. Nor did the states, when 
they severally ratified it, do so under the impression that a veto on 
the laws of the United States was reserved to them, or that they could 
exercise it by implication. Search the debates in all their conven 
tions; examine the speeches of the most zealous opposers of federal 
authority: look at the amendments that were proposed. They are all 
silent; not a syllable uttered, not a vote given, not a motion made to 
correct the explicit supremacy given to the laws of the Union over 
those of the states, or to show that implication, as is now contended, 
could defeat it. No, we have not erred. The Constitution is still the 
object of our reverence, the bond of our Union, our defence in dan 
ger, the source of our prosperity in peace: it shall descend as we have 
received it, uncorrupted by sophistical construction, to our posterity; 
and the sacrifices of local interest, of state prejudices, of personal ani 
mosities, that were made to bring it into existence, will again be patri 
otically offered for its support. 


The two remaining objections made by the ordinance to these laws 
are, that the sums intended to be raised by them are greater than are 
required, and that the proceeds will be unconstitutionally employed. 

The Constitution has given expressly to Congress the right of rais 
ing revenue, and of determining the sum the public exigencies will 
require. The states have no control over the exercise of this right 
other than that which results from the power of changing the repre 
sentatives who abuse it, and thus procure redress. Congress may, 
undoubtedly, abuse this discretionary power, but the same may be 
said of others with which they are vested. Yet the discretion must exist 
somewhere. The Constitution has given it to the representatives of 
all the people, checked by the representatives of the states and by the 
Executive power. The South Carolina construction gives it to the 
legislature or the convention of a single state, where neither the peo 
ple of the different states, nor the states in their separate capacity, 
nor the Chief Magistrate elected by the people, have any representa 
tion. Which is the most discreet disposition of the power? I do not 
ask you, fellow-citizens, which is the constitutional disposition; that 
instrument speaks a language not to be misunderstood. But if you 
were assembled in general convention, which would you think the 
safest depository of this discretionary power in the last resort? Would 
you add a clause giving it to each of the states, or would you sanction 
the wise provisions already made by your Constitution ? If this 
should be the result of your deliberations when providing for the future, 
are you, can you be ready to risk all that we hold dear to establish, 
for a temporary and a local purpose, that which you must acknowledge 
to be destructive, and even absurd, as a general provision ? Carry 
out the consequences of this right vested in the different states, and 
you must perceive that the crisis your conduct presents at this day 
would recur whenever any law of the United States displeased any of 
the states, and that we should soon cease to be a nation. 

The ordinance, with the same knowledge of the future that character 
izes a former objection, tells you that the proceeds of the tax will be 
unconstitutionally applied. If this could be ascertained with certainty, 
the objection would, with more propriety, be reserved for the law so 
applying the proceeds, but surely cannot be urged against the laws 
levying the duty. 

These arc the allegations contained in the ordinance. Examine 
them seriously, my fellow-citizens judge for yourselves. I appeal to 
you to determine whether they are so clear, so convincing, as to leave 
no doubt of their correctness; and even if you should come to this 
conclusion, how far they justify the reckless, destructive course which 
you are directed to pursue. Review these objections, and the conclu 
sions drawn from them, once more. What are they? Every law, 
then, for raising revenue, according to the South Carolina ordinance, 
may be rightfully annulled, unless it be so framed as no law ever will 


or can be framed. Congress has a right to pass laws for raising 
revenue, and each state has a right to oppose their execution two 
rights directly opposed to each other; and yet is this absurdity sup 
posed to be contained in an instrument drawn for the express purpose 
of avoiding collisions between the states and the general government 
by an assembly of the most enlightened statesmen and purest patriots 
ever embodied for a similar purpose. 

In vain have these sages declared that Congress shall have power 
to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises; in vain have 
they provided that they shall have power to pass laws which shall be 
necessary and proper to carry those powers into execution; that those 
laws and that Constitution shall be the " supreme law of the land, 
and that the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything 
in the constitution oniaws of any state to the contrary notwithstand 
ing." In vain have the people of the several states solemnly sanc 
tioned these provisions, made them their paramount law, and indi 
vidually sworn to support them whenever they were called on to 
execute any office. Vain provisions! ineffectual restrictions! vile 
profanation of oaths! miserable mockery of legislation! if a bare ma 
jority of the voters in any one state may, on a real or supposed 
knowledge of the intent with which a law has been passed, declare 
themselves free from its operation say here it gives too little, there 
too much, and operates unequally; here it suffers articles to be free 
that ought to be taxed there it taxes those that ought to be free; in 
this case the proceeds are intended to be applied to purposes which 
we do not approve in that the amount raised is more than is wanted. 

Congress, it is true, is invested by the Constitution with the right 
of deciding these questions according to its sound discretion. Con 
gress is composed of the representatives of all the states, and of all 
the people of all the states; but we, part of the people of one state, 
to whom the Constitution has given no power on the subject, from 
whom it has expressly taken it away we, who have solemnly agreed 
that this Constitution shall be our law we, most of whom have sworn 
to support it we now abrogate this law, and swear, and force others to 
swear, that it shall not be obeyed. And we do this not because Con 
gress have no right to pass such laws this we do not allege but be 
cause they have passed them with improper views. They are uncon 
stitutional from the motives of those who passed them, which we can 
never with certainty know; from their unequal operation, although it 
is impossible, from the nature of things, that they should be equal; 
and from the disposition which we presume may be made of their pro 
ceeds, although that disposition has not been declared. This is the 
plain meaning of the ordinance in relation to laws which it abrogates 
for alleged unconstitutionality. But it does not stop there. It re 
peals, in express terms, an important part of the Constitution itself, 
and of laws passed to give it effect, which have never been alleged to 

A NDRE IV /. / CKSON. 29 1 

be unconstitutional. The Constitution declares that the judical powers 
of the United States extend to cases arising under the laws of the 
United States, and that such laws, the Constitution and treaties, shall 
be paramount to the state constitutions and laws. The judiciary act 
prescribes the mode by which the case may be brought before a court 
of the United states, by appeal, when a state tribunal shall decide 
against this provision of the Constitution. The ordinance declares 
there shall be no appeal; makes the state law paramount to the Con 
stitution and laws of the United States; forces judges and jurors to 
swear that they will disregard their provisions; and even makes it 
penal in a suitor to attempt relief by appeal. It further declares that 
it shall not be lawful for the authorities of the United States, or of 
that state, to enforce the payment of duties imposed by the revenue 
laws within its limits. 

Here is a law of the United States, not even pretended to be uncon 
stitutional, repealed by the authority of a small majority of the voters 
of a single state. Here is a provision of the Constitution which is 
solemnly abrogated by the same authority. 

On such expositions and reasonings the ordinance grounds not only 
an assertion of the right to annul the laws of which it complains, but 
to enforce it by a threat of seceding from the Union if any attempt is 
made to execute them. 

This right to secede is deduced from the nature of the Constitution, 
which, they say, is a compact between sovereign states, who have pre 
served their whole sovereignty, and therefore are subject to no supe 
rior; that, because they made the compact they can break it when, in 
their opinion, it has been departed from by the other states. Falla 
cious as this course of reasoning is, it enlists state pride, and finds ad 
vocates in the honest prejudices of those who have not studied the 
nature of our government sufficiently to see the radical error on which 
it rests. 

The people of the United States formed the Constitution, acting 
through the state legislatures in making the compact, to meet and dis 
cuss its provisions, and acting in separate conventions when they rati 
fied these provisions; but the terms used in its construction show it to 
be a government in which the people of the states collectively are rep 
resented. We are one people in the choice of the President and Vice- 
President. Here the states have no other agency than to direct the 
mode in which the votes shall be given. The candidates having the 
majority of all the votes are chosen. The electors of a majority of 
states may have given their votes for one candidate, and yet another 
may be chosen. The people, then, and not the states, are represented 
in the executive branch. 

In the House of Representatives there is this difference, that the 
people of one state do not, as in the case of President and Vice-Pres 
ident, all vote for the same officers. The people of all the states do 


not vote for all the members, each state electing only its own repre 
sentatives. But this creates no material distinction. When chosen, 
they are all representatives of the United States, not representatives 
of the particular state from which they come. They are paid by the 
United States, not by the state, nor are they accountable to it for any 
act done in the performance of their legislative functions; and how 
ever they may in practice, as it is their duty to do, consult and prefer 
the interests of their particular constituents when they come in con 
flict with any other partial or local interest, yet it is their first and 
highest duty, as representatives of the United States, to promote the 
general good. 

The Constitution of the United States, then, forms a government, 
not a league, and whether it be formed by compact between the states 
or in any other manner, its character is the same. It is a government 
in which all the people are represented, which operates directly on the 
people individually, not upon the states they retained all the power 
they did not grant. But each state having expressly parted with so 
many powers as to constitute, jointly with the other states, a single 
nation, cannot from that period possess any right to secede, because 
such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a 
nation, and any injury to that unity is not only a breach which would 
result from the contravention of a compact, but it is an offence against 
the whole Union. To say that any state may at pleasure secede from 
the Union is to say that the United States are not a nation, because it 
would be a solecism to contend that any part of a nation might dis 
solve its connection with the other parts, to their injury or ruin, with 
out committing any offence. Secession, like any other revolutionary 
act, may be morally justified by the extremity of oppression; but to 
call it a constitutional right is confounding the meaning of terms, and 
can only be done through gross error, or to deceive those who are 
willing to assert a right, but would pause before they made a revolu 
tion, or incur the penalties consequent on a failure. 

Because the Union was formed by compact, it is said the parties to 
that compact may, when they feel themselves aggrieved, depart from 
it; but it is precisely because it is a compact that they cannot. A com 
pact is an agreement or binding obligation. It may by its terms have 
a sanction or penalty for its breach, or it may not. If it contains no 
sanction, it may be broken with no other consequence than moral 
guilt; if it have a sanction, then the breach insures the designated or 
implied penalty. A league between independent nations generally has 
no sanction other than a moral one; or if it should contain a penalty, 
as there is no common superior, it cannot be enforced. A govern 
ment, on the contrary, always has a sanction, express or implied, and 
in our case it is both necessarily implied and expressly given. An at 
tempt, by force of arms, to destroy a government is an offence by 
whatever means the constitutional compact may have been formed, 


and such government has the right, by the law of self-defence, to pass 
acts for punishing the offender,unless that right is modified, restrained, 
or resumed by the constitutional act. In our system, although it is 
modified in the case of treason, yet authority is expressly given to pass 
all laws necessary to carry its powers into effect and under this grant 
provision has been made for punishing acts which obstruct the due ad 
ministration of the laws. 

It would seem superfluous to add anything to show the nature of 
that union which connects us; but as erroneous opinions on this sub 
ject are the foundation of doctrines the most destructive to our peace, 
1 must give some further development to my views on this subject. 
No one, fellow-citizens, has a higher reverence for the reserved rights 
of the states than the magistrate who now addresses you. No one 
would make greater personal sacrifices or official exertions to defend 
them from violation, but equal care must be taken to prevent on their 
part an improper interference with or resumption of the rights they 
have vested in the nation. The line has not been so distinctly drawn 
as to avoid doubts in some cases of the exercise of power. Men of 
the best intentions and soundest views may differ in their construction 
of some parts of the Constitution, but there are others on which dis 
passionate reflection can leave no doubt. Of this nature appears to 
be the assumed right of secession. It treats, as we have seen, on the 
alleged undivided sovereignty of the states, and on their having 
formed, in this sovereign capacity, a compact which is called the Con 
stitution, from which, because the) made it> they have the right to 
secede. Both of these positions are erroneous, and some of the argu 
ments to prove them so have been anticipated. 

The states severally have not retained their entire sovereignty. It 
has been shown that in becoming parts of a nation, not members of a 
league, they surrendered many of their essential parts of sovereignty. 
The right to make treaties, declare war, levy taxes, exercise exclusive 
judicial and legislative powers, were all of them functions of sovereign 
power. The states, then, for all these purposes, were no longer sov 
ereign. The allegiance of their citizens was transferred in the first in 
stance to the government of the United States. They became Amer 
ican citizens, and owed obedience to the Constitution of the United 
States, and to laws made in conformity with the powers it vested in 
Congress. This last position has not been and cannot be denied. 
How, then, can that state be said to be sovereign and independent 
whose citizens owe obedience to laws not made by it, and whose mag 
istrates are sworn to disregard those laws when they come in conflict 
with those passed by another? What shows conclusively that the 
states cannot be said to have reserved an undivided sovereignty is, 
that they expressly ceded- the right to punish treason not treason 
against their separate power, but treason against the United States. 
Treason is an offence against sovereignty, and sovereignty must re 


side with the power to punish it. But the reserved rights of the 
states are not less sacred because they have, for their common interest, 
made the general government the depository of these powers. 

The unity of our political character (as has been shown lor another 
purpose) commenced with its very existence. Under the royal gov 
ernment we had no separate character; our opposition to its op- 
p?ession began as united colonies. We were the United States 
under the confederation, and the name was perpetuated, and the 
Union rendered more perfect, by the federal constitution. In none 
of these stages did we consider ourselves in any other light than as 
forming one nation. Treaties and alliances were made in the name 
of all. Troops were raised for the joint defence. How, then, with 
all these proofs, that under all changes of our position we had for 
designated purposes and defined powers, created national govern 
ments how is it that the most perfect of those several modes of 
union should now be considered as a mere league that may be dis 
solved at pleasure? It is from an abuse of terms. Compact is used 
as synonymous with league, although the true term is not employed, 
because it would at once show the fallacy of the reasoning. It would 
not do to say that our constitution was only a league, but it is labored 
to prove it a compact (which in one sense it is), and then to argue that 
as a league is a compact, every compact between nations must, of 
course, be a league, and that from such an engagement every sover 
eign power has a right to recede. But it has been shown that, in this 
sense, the states are not sovereign, and that even if they were, and the 
national constitution had been formed by compact, there would be no 
right in any one state to exonerate itself from its obligations. 

So obvious are the reasons which forbid this secession, that it is 
necessary only to allude to them. The Union was formed for the 
benefit of all. It was produced by mutual sacrifices of interests and 
opinions. Can those sacrifices be recalled ? Can the states, who 
magnanimously surrendered their title to the territories of the west, 
recall the grant ? Will the inhabitants of the inland states agree to 
pay the duties that may be imposed without their assent by those on 
the Atlantic or the Gulf, for their own benefit ? Shall there be a free 
port in one state and onerous duties in another ? No one believes 
that any right exists in a single state to involve all the others in these 
and countless other evils contrary to the engagements solemnly made. 
Every one must see that the other states, in self-defence, must oppose 
it at all hazards. 

These are the alternatives that are presented by the convention: a 
repeal of all the acts for raising revenue, leaving the government with 
out the means of support, or an acquiescence in the dissolution of our 
Union by the secession of one of its members. When the first was 
proposed, it was known that it could not be listened to for a moment. 
It was known, if force was applied to oppose the execution of the 


laws that it must be repelled by force: that Congress could not, with 
out involving itself in disgrace and the country in ruin, accede to the 
proposition; and yet if this is not done in a given day, or if any at 
tempt is made to execute the laws, the state is, by the ordinance, 
declared to be out of the Union. The majority of a convention as 
sembled for the purpose have dictated these terms, or rather this re 
jection of all terms, in the name of the people of South Carolina It 
is true that the governor of the state speaks of the submission of cheir 
grievances to a convention of all the states, which, he says, they 
* sincerely and anxiously seek and desire." Yet this obvious and 
constitutional mode of obtaining the sense of the other states on the 
construction of the federal compact, and amending it, if necessary, 
has never been attempted by those who have urged the state on to 
this destructive measure. The state might have proposed the call for 
a general convention to the other states, and Congress, if a sufficient 
number of them concurred, must have called it. But the first magis 
trate of South Carolina, when he expressed a hope that, " on a review 
by Congress, and the functionaries of the general government of the 
merits of the controversy," such a convention will be accorded to 
them, must have known that neither Congress nor any functionary of 
the general government has authority to call such a convention, unless 
it be demanded by two-thirds of the states. This suggestion, then, is 
another instance of the reckless inattention to the provisions of the 
constitution with which this crisis has been madly hurried on, or of 
the attempt to persuade the people that a constitutional remedy had 
been sought and refused. If the legislature of South Carolina " anxi 
ously desire" a general convention to consider their complaints, why 
have they not made application for it in the way the constitution 
points out ? The assertion that they " earnestly seek it" is completely 
negatived by the omission. 

This, then, is the position in which we stand. A small majority of 
the citizens of one state in the Union have elected delegates to a state 
convention, that convention has ordained that all the revenue laws of 
the United States must be repealed, or that they are no longer a 
member of the Union. The governor of that state has recommended 
to the legislature the raising of an army to carry the secession into 
effect, and that he may be empowered to give clearances to vessels in 
the name of the state. No act of violent opposition to the laws has 
yet been committed, but such a state of things is hourly apprehended, 
and it is the intent of this instrument to proclaim, not only that the 
duty imposed on me by the constitution " to take care that the laws be 
faithfully executed," shall be performed to the extent of the powers 
already vested in me by law, or of such others as the wisdom of Con 
gress shall devise and intrust to me for that purpose, but to warn the 
citizens of South Carolina who have been deluded into an opposition 
to the laws, of the danger they will incur by obedience to the illegal 


and disorganizing ordinance of the convention; to exhort those who 
have refused to support it to persevere in their determination to up 
hold the constitution and laws of their country, and to point out to 
all the perilous situation into which the good people of that state have 
been led, and that the course they are urged to pursue is one of ruin 
and disgrace to the very state whose rights they affect to support. 

Fellow-citizens of my native state, let me not only admonish you, 
as the first magistrate of our common country, not to incur the penalty 
of its laws, but use the influence that a father would over his children 
whom he saw rushing to certain ruin. In that paternal language, 
with that paternal feeling, let me tell you, my countrymen, that you 
are deluded by men who are either deceived themselves or wish to 
deceive you. Mark under what pretences you have been led on to 
the brink of insurrection and treason, on which you stand! First, a 
diminution of the value of your staple commodity, lowered by over 
production in other quarters, and the consequent diminution in the 
value of your lands, were the sole effect of the tariff laws. 

The effect of those laws was confessedly injurious, but the evil was 
greatly exaggerated by the unfounded theory you were taught to be 
lieve, that its burdens were in proportion to your exports, not to your 
consumption of imported articles. Your pride was roused by the as 
sertion that a submission to those laws was a state of vassalage, and 
that resistance to them was equal, in patriotic merit, to the oppositions 
our fathers offered to the oppressive laws of Great Britain. You were 
told that this opposition might be peaceably might be constitutionally 
made; that you might enjoy all the advantages of the Union, and bear 
none of its burdens. Eloquent appeals to your passions, to your 
state pride, to your native courage, to your sense of real injury, were 
used to prepare you for the period when the mask, which concealed 
the hideous features of disunion should be taken off. It fell, and you 
were made to look with complacency on objects \vhich, not long 
since, you would have regarded with horror. Look back to the arts 
which have brought you to this state; look forward to the conse 
quences to which it must inevitably lead! Look back to what was 
first told you as an inducement to enter into this dangerous course. 
The great political truth was repeated to you, that you had the revo 
lutionary right of resisting all laws that were palpably unconstitutional 
and intolerably oppressive; it was added that the right to nullify a law 
rested on the same principle, but that it was a peaceable remedy 
This character which was given to it made you receive, with too 
much confidence, the assertions that were made of the unconstitution 
ally of the law and its oppressive effects. Mark, my fellow-citizens, 
that, by the admission of your leaders, the unconstitutionally must be 
palpable, or it will not justify either resistance or nullification! Whal 
is the meaning of the word palpable in the sense in which it is here 
used? That which is apparent tg every one; that which no man of 

A A">A IV JA CA SOA . 297 

ordinary intellect will fail to perceive. Is the unconstitutionality of 
these laws of that description ? Let those among your leaders, who 
once approved and advocated the principle of productive duties, an 
swer the question, and let them choose whether they will be con 
sidered as incapable, then, of perceiving that which must have been 
apparent to every man of common understanding, or as imposing 
upon your confidence, and endeavoring to mislead you now. In 
either case they are unsafe guides in the perilous path they urge you 
to tread. Ponder well on this circumstance, and you will know how 
to appreciate the exaggerated language they address to you. They 
are not champions of liberty emulating the fame of our revolutionary 
fathers; nor are you an oppressed people, contending, as they repeat 
to you, against worse than colonial vassalage. 

You are free members of a flourishing and happy Union. There is 
no settled design to oppress you. You have indeed felt the unequal 
operation of laws which may have been unwisely, not unconstitution 
ally passed; but that inequality must necessarily be removed. At the 
very moment when you were madly urged on to the unfortunate course 
you have begun, a change in public opinion had commenced. The 
nearly approaching payment of the public debt, and the consequent 
necessity of a diminution of duties, had already produced a considerable 
reduction, and that, too, on some articles of general consumption in 
your State. The importance of this change was underrated, and you 
were authoritatively told that no further alleviation of your burdens 
was to be expected at the very time when the condition of the country 
imperiously demanded such a modification of the duties as should re 
duce them to a just and equitable scale. But as if apprehensive of the 
effect of this change in allaying your discontents, you were precipitated 
into the fearful state in which you now find yourselves. 

I have urged you to look back to the means that were used to hurry 
you on to the position you have now assumed, and forward to the 
consequences it will produce. Something more is necessary. Con 
template the condition of that country of which you still form an im 
portant part. Consider its government uniting in one bond of common 
interest and general protection so many different States giving to all 
their inhabitants the proud title of American citizens, protecting their 
commerce, securing their literature and their arts; facilitating their in 
tercommunication; defending their frontiers; and making their name 
respected in the remotest parts of the earth. Consider the extent of 
its territory; its increasing and happy population; its advance in arts 
which render life agreeable; and the sciences which elevate the mind ! 
See education spreading the lights of religion, morality, and general in 
formation into every cottage in this wide extent of our Territories 
and States ! Behold it as the asylum where the wretched and the 
oppressed find a refuge and support! Look on this picture of happi 
ness and honor, and say. we,- too, are Citizens of America! Caro- 


lina is one of these proud States; her arms have defended, her best 
blood has cemented, this happy Union ! And then add, if you can, 
without horror and remorse, this happy Union we will dissolve ; this 
picture of peace and prosperity we will deface; this free intercourse we 
will interrupt; these fertile fields we will deluge with blood; the pro 
tection of that glorious flag we renounce; the very name of Americans 
we discard. And for what, mistaken men; for what do you throw 
away these inestimable blessings ? For what would you exchange 
your share in the advantages and honor of the Union ? For the dream 
of separate independence a dream interrupted by bloody conflicts 
with your neighbors, and a vile dependence on a foreign power. If 
your leaders could suceed in establishing a separation, what would be 
your situation ? Are you united at home; are you free from the appre 
hension of civil discord, with all its fearful consequences ? Do our 
neighboring republics, every day suffering some new revolution, or 
contending with some new insurrection do they excite your envy? 
But the dictates of a high duty oblige me solemnly to announce that 
you cannot succeed. The laws of the United States must be executed 
I have no discretionary power on the subject; my duty is emphatically 
pronounced in the Constitution. Those who told you that you might 
peaceably prevent their execution deceived you; they could not have 
been deceived themselves. They know that a forcible opposition could 
alone prevent the execution of the laws, and the know that such opposi 
tion must be repelled. Their object is disunion; but be not deceived by 
names; disunion, by armed force, is treason. Are you really ready 
to incur its guilt ? If you are, on the heads of the instigators of the 
act be the dreadful consequences; on their heads be the dishonor, but 
on yours may fall the punishment. On your unhappy State will ine 
vitably fall all the evils of the conflict you force upon the government 
of your country. It cannot accede to the mad project of disunion, of 
which you would be the first victims; its first magistrate cannot, if he 
would, avoid the performance of his duty. The consequence must be 
fearful for you, distressing to your fellow-citizens here, and to the 
friends of good government throughout the world. Its enemies have 
beheld our prosperity with a vexation they could not conceal; it was 
a standing refutation of their slavish doctrines, and they will point to 
our discord with the triumph of malignant joy. It is yet in your power 
to disappoint them. There is yet time to show that the descendants 
of the Pinckneys, the Sumters, the Rutledges, and of the thousand 
other names which adorn the pages of your revolutionary history, will 
not abandon that Union, to support which so many of them fought, 
and bled, and died. 

I adjure you, as you honor their memory, as you love the cause of 
freedom, to which they dedicated their lives, as you prize the peace of 
your country, the lives of its best citizens, and your own fair fame, to 
retrace your steps. Snatch from the archives of your State the disor- 


ganizing edict of its convention; bid its members to reassemble, and 
promulgate the decided expressions of your will to remain in the path 
\vhich alone can conduct you to safety, prosperity, and honor. Tell 
them that, compared to disunion, all other evils are light, because that 
brings with it an accumulation of all. Declare that you will never take 
the field unless the star-spangled banner or your country shall float 
over you; that you will not be stigmatized when dead, and dishonored 
and scorned while you live, as the autnors of the first attack on the 
Constitution of your country. Its destroyers you cannot be. You 
may disturb its peace you may interrupt the course of its prosperity 
you may cloud its reputation for stability, but its tranquillity will be 
restored, its prosperity will return, and the stain upon its national char 
acter will be transferred and remain an eternal blot on the memory of 
those who caused the disorder. 

Fellow-citizens of the United States: The threat of unhallowed dis 
union the names of those once respected, by whom it is uttered the 
array of military force to support it denote the approach of a crisis 
in our affairs on which the continuance of our unexampled prosperity, 
our political existence, and perhaps that of all free governments may 
depend. The conjuncture demanded a free, a full, and explicit enun 
ciation, not only of my intentions, but of my principles of action; and, 
as the claim was asserted of a right by a State to annul the laws of the 
Union, and even to secede from it at pleasure, a frank exposition of 
my opinions in relation to the origin and form of our government, and 
the construction I give to the instrument by which it was created, 
seemed to be proper. Having the fullest confidence in the justness of 
the legal and constitutional opinion of my duties, which has been ex 
pressed, I rely, with equal confidence, on your undivided support in 
my determination to execute the laws, to preserve the Union by all 
constitutional means, to arrest, if possible, by moderate but firm mea 
sures, the necessity of a recourse to force; and, if it be the will of 
Heaven, that the recurrence of its primeval curse on man for the shed 
ding of a brother s blood should fall upon our land, that it be not called 
down by an offensive act on the part of the United States. 

Fellow-citizens : The momentous case is before you. On your un 
divided support of your government depends the decision of the great 
question it involves, whether your sacred Union will be preserved, and 
the blessings it secures to us as one people shall be perpetuated. No 
one can doubt that the unanimity with which that decision will be ex 
pressed will be such as to inspire new confidence in republican insti 
tutions, and that the prudence, the wisdom, and the courage which it 
will bring to their defence will transmit them unimpaired and invigo 
rated to our children. 

May the Great Ruler of nations grant that the signal blessings with 
which he has favored ours may not, by the madness of party or per 
sonal ambition, be disregarded and lost; and may his wise Providence 


bring those who have produced this crisis to see their folly before they 
feel the misery of civil strife, and inspire a returning veneration for 
that Union which, if we may dare to penetrate his designs, he has 
chosen as the only means of attaining the high destinies to which we 
may reasonably aspire. 

In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the United States 
to be hereunto affixed, having signed the same with my hand. 

Done at the City of Washington, this loth day of December, in the 
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two, and of 
the independence of the United States the fifty-seventh. 

By the President : 


Secretary of State. 


Washington, Dec. 31, 1834. 

On the 6th of September, 1757, Lafayette was born. The kings of 
France and Britain were seated upon their thrones by virtue of the 
principle of hereditary succession, variously modified and blended 
with different forms of religious faith, and they were waging war 
against each other, and exhausting the blood and treasure of their 
people for causes in which neither of the nations had any beneficial or 
lawful interest. 

In this war the father of Lafayette fell in the cause of his king, but 
not of his country. He was an officer of an invading army, the 
instrument of his sovereign s wanton ambition and lust of conquest. 
The people of the electorate of Hanover had done no wrong to him 
or to his country. When his son came to an age capable of under 
standing the irreparable loss that he had suffered, and to reflect upon 
the causes of his father s fate, there was no drop of consolation 
mingled in the cup., from the consideration that he had died for 
his country. And when the youthful mind was awakened to medita 
tion upon the rights of mankind, the principles of freedom, and 
theories of government, it cannot be difficult to perceive, in the illus 
trations of his own family records, the source of that aversion to her 
editary rule, perhaps the most distinguishing feature of his political 
opinions, and to which he adhered through all the vicissitudes of his 

In the same war, and at the same time, George Washington was 
armed, a loyal subject, in support of his king; but to him tlvat^was 


also the cause of his country. His commission was not in the army 
of George the Second, but issued under the authority of the Colony of 
Virginia, the province in which he received his birth. On the borders 
of that province, the war in its most horrid forms was waged not a 
war of mercy, and of courtesy, like that of the civilized embattled 
legions of Europe; but war to the knife the war of Indian savages, 
terrible to man, but more terrible to the tender sex, and most terrible 
to helpless infancy. In defence of his country against the ravages of 
such a war. Washington, in the dawn of manhood, had drawn his 
sword, as if Providence, with deliberate purpose, had sanctified for 
him the practice of war, all-detestable and unhallowed as it is, that he 
might, in a cause, virtuous and exalted by its motive and its end, be 
trained and fitted in a congenial school to march in after times the 
leader of heroes in the war of his country s independence. 

At the time of the birth of Lafayette, this war, which was to make 
him a fatherless child, and in which Washington was laying broad and 
deep, in the defence and protection of his native land, the foundations 
of his unrivalled renown, was but in its early stage. It was to con 
tinue five years longer, and was to close with the total extinguishment 
of the colonial dominion of France on the Continent of North America. 
The deep humiliation of France, and the triumphant ascendancy on 
this Continent of her rival, were the first results of this great national 
conflict. The complete expulsion of France from North America 
seemed to the superficial vision of men to fix the British power over 
these extensive regions on foundations immovable as the everlasting 

Let us pass in imagination a period of only twenty years, and alight 
upon the borders of the river Brandywine. Washington is Com 
mander-in-chief of the armies of the United States of America war is 
again raging in the heart of his native land hostile armies of one and 
the same name, blood, and language, are arrayed for battle on the 
banks of the stream; and Philadelphia, where the United States are in 
Congress assembled, and whence their decree of independence has 
gone forth, is the destined prize to the conflict of the day. Who is 
that tall, slender youth, of foreign air and aspect, scarcely emerged 
from the years of boyhood, and fresh from the walls of a college; 
fighting, a volunteer, at the side of Washington, bleeding, uncon 
sciously to himself, and rallying his men to secure the retreat of the 
scattered American ranks ? It is Gilbert Motier de Lafayette the 
son of the victim of Minden; and he is bleeding in the cause of North 
American independence and of freedom. 

We pause one moment to inquire what was this cause of North 
American Independence, and what were the motives and inducements 
to the youthful stranger to devote himself, his life, and fortune, to it. 

The people of the British colonies in North America, after a con 
troversy of ten years duration with their sovereign beyond the seas, 


upon an attempt by him and his Parliament to tax them without their 
consent, had been constrained by necessity to declare themselves in- 
pendent to dissolve the tie of their allegiance to him to renounce 
their right to his protection, and to assume their station among the 
independent civilized nations of the earth. This had been done with 
a deliberation and solemnity unexampled in the history of the world 
done in the midst of a civil war, differing in character from any of 
those which for centuries before had desolated Europe. The war had 
arisen upon a question between the rights of the people and the 
powers of their government. The discussions, in the progress of the 
controversy, had opened to the contemplations of men the first foun 
dations of civil society and of government. The war. of independence 
began by litigation upon a petty stamp on paper, and a tax of three 
pence a pound upon tea; but these broke up the fountains of the great 
deep, and the deluge ensued. Had the British Parliament the right 
to tax the people of the Colonies in another hemisphere, not repre 
sented in the Imperial Legislature? They affirmed they had: the 
people of the colonies insisted they had not. There were ten years 
of pleading before they came to an issue; and all the legitimate 
sources of power, and all the primitive elements of freedom, were 
scrutinized, debated, analyzed, and elucidated, before the lighting of 
the torch of Ate, and her cry of havoc upon letting slip the dogs of 

When the day of conflict came, the issue of the contest was neces 
sarily changed. The people of the Colonies had maintained the con 
test on the principle of resisting the invasion of chartered rights 
first by argument and remonstrance, and, finally, by appeal to the 
sword. But with the war came the necessary exercise of sovereign 
powers. The Declaration of Independence justified itself as the only 
possible remedy for insufferable wrongs. It seated itself upon the 
first foundations of the law of nature, and the incontestable doctrine 
of human rights. There was no longer any question of the constitu 
tional powers of the British Parliament, or of violated colonial char 
ters. Thenceforward the American nation supported its existence by 
war; and the British nation, by war, was contending for conquest. 
As, between the two parties, the single question at issue was Inde 
pendence but in the confederate existence of the North American 
Union, Liberty not only their own liberty, but the vital principle of 
liberty to the whole race of civilized man, was involved. 

It was at this stage of the conflict, and immediately after the Dec 
laration of Independence, that it drew the attention, and called into 
action the moral sensibilities and the intellectual faculties of Lafayette, 
then in the nineteenth year of his age. 

The war was revolutionary. It began by the dissolution of the 
British Government in the colonies; the people of which were, by 
that operation, left without any government whatever. They were 


then at one and the same time maintaining their independent national 
existence by war, and forming new social compacts for their own 
government thenceforward. The construction of civil society; the 
extent and the limitations of organized power; the establishment of a 
system of government combining the greatest enlargement of indi 
vidual liberty with the most perfect preservation of public order, were 
the continual occupations of every mind. The consequences of this 
state of things to the history of mankind, and especially of Europe, 
were foreseen by none. Europe saw nothing but the war; a people 
struggling for liberty, and against oppression; and the people in every 
part of Europe sympathized with the people of the American colo 

With their governments it was not so. The people of the American 
colonies were insurgents; all governments abhor insurrection. They 
were revolted colonists; the great maritime powers of Europe had 
colonies of their own, to which the example of resistance against 
oppression might be contagious. The American colonies were stig 
matized in all the official acts of the British Government as rebels; 
and rebellion to the governing part of mankind is as the sin of witch 
craft. The governments of Europe, therefore, were at heart, on the 
side of the British Government in this war, and the people of Europe 
were on the side of the American people. 

Lafayette, by his position and condition in life, was one of those 
who, governed by the ordinary impulses which influence and control 
the conduct of men, would have sided in sentiment with the British or 
royal cause. 

Lafayette was born a subject of the most absolute and most splen 
did monarchy of Europe; and in the highest rank of her proud and 
chivalrous nobility. He had been educated at a college of the Uni 
versity of Paris, founded by the royal munificence of Louis the Four 
teenth, or Cardinal Richelieu. Left an orphan in early childhood, 
with the inheritance of a princely fortune, he had been married at six 
teen years of age, to a daughter of the house of Noailles, the most 
distinguished family of the kingdom, scarcely deemed in public con 
sideration inferior to that which wore the crown. He came into active 
life, at the change from boy to man, a husband and a father, in the 
full enjoyment of everything that avarice could covet, with a certain 
prospect before him of all that ambition could crave. Happy in 
his domestic affections, incapable, from the benignity of his nature, of 
envy, hatred, or revenge, a life of "ignoble ease and indolent repose" 
seemed to be that which nature and fortune had combined to prepare 
before him. To men of ordinary mould this condition would have Ij^d 
to a life of luxurious apathy and sensual indulgence. Such was the 
life into which, from the operation of the same causes, Louis the Fif 
teenth had sunk, with his household and court, while Lafayette was 
rising to manhood surrounded by the contamination of their example. 


Had his natural endowments been even of the higher and nobler order 
of such as adhere to virtue, even in the lap of prosperity, and in the 
bosom of temptation, he might have lived and died a pattern of the 
nobility of France, to be classed, in aftertimes, with the Turennes and 
the Montausiers of the age of Louis the Fourteenth, or with the Viiiars 
or the Lamoignons of the age immediately preceding his own. 

But as, in the firmament of heaven that rolls over our heads, there 
is, among the stars of the first magnitude, one so pre-eminent in 
splendor, as in the opinion of astronomers, to constitute a class by 
itself; so in the fourteen hundred years of the French monarchy, 
among the multitudes of great and mighty men which it has evolved, 
the name of Lafayette stands unrivalled in the solitude of glory. 

In entering upon the threshold of life, a career was to open before 
him. He had the option of the court and the camp. An office was 
tendered to him in the household of the King s brother, the Count de 
Provence, since successively a royal exile and a reinstated king. The 
servitude and inaction of a court had no charms for him; he pre 
ferred a commission in the army, and, at the time of the Declaration 
of Independence, was a captain of dragoons in garrison at Met/. 

There, at a entertainment given by his relative, the Marechal de 
Broglie, the commandant of the place, to the Duke of Gloucester, 
brother to the British king, and then a transient traveller through that 
part of France, he learns, as an incident of intelligence received that 
morning by the English Prince from London, that the Congress of 
rebels at Philadelphia, had issued a Declaration of Independence. A 
conversation ensues upon the causes which have contributed to pro 
duce this event, and upon the consequences which may be expected to 
flow from it. The imagination of Lafayette has caught across the At 
lantic tide the spark emitted from the Declaration of Independence; 
his heart has kindled at the shock, and, before he slumbers upon his 
pillow, he has resolved to devote his life and fortune to the cause. 

You have before you the cause and the man. The self-devotion of 
Lafayette was twofold. First to the people, maintaining a bold and 
seemingly desperate struggle against oppression, and for national ex 
istence. Secondly, and chiefly, to the principles of their declaration, 
which then first unfurled before his eyes the consecrated standard of 
human rights. To that standard, without an instant of hesitation, 
he repaired. Where it would lead him, it is scarcely probable that he 
himself then foresaw. It was then identical with the Stars and Stripes 
of the American Union, floating to the breeze from the Hall of Inde 
pendence, at Philadelphia. Nor sordid avarice, nor vulgar ambition, 
could point his footsteeps to the pathway leading to that banner. To 
the love of ease or pleasure nothing could be more repulsive. Some 
thing may be allowed to the beatings of the youthful breast, which 
make ambition virtue, and something to the spirit of military adven 
ture, imbibed from his profession, and which he felt in common 


many others. France, Germany, Poland, furnished to the armies of 
this Union, in our revolutionary struggle, no inconsiderable number of 
officers of high rank and distinguished merit. The names of Pulaski 
and De Kalb are numbered among the martyrs of our freedom, and 
their ashes repose in our soil side by side with the canonized bones of 
Warren and of Montgomery. To the virtues of Lafayette, a more 
protracted career and happier earthly destinies were reserved. To the 
moral principle of political action, the sacrifices of no other man were 
comparable to his. Youth, health, fortune; the favor of his king; the 
enjoyment of ease and pleasure; even the choicest blessings of domes 
tic felicity he gave them all for toil and danger in a distant land, and 
an almost hopeless cause; but it was the cause of justice, and of the 
rights of human kind. 

The resolve is firmly fixed, and it now remains to be carried into exe 
cution. On the 7th of December, 1776, Silas Deane, then a secret 
agent of the American Congress at Paris, stipulates with the Marquis de 
Lafayette that he shall receive a commission, to date from that day, of 
Major General in the Army of the United States ; and the Marquis 
stipulates, in return, to depart when and how Mr, Deane shall judge 
proper, to serve the United States with all possible zeal, without pay or 
emolument, reserving to himself only the liberty of returning to Europe, 
if his family or his King should recall him. 

Neither his family nor his King were willing that he should depart ; 
nor had Mr. Deane the power, either to conclude this contract, or to 
furnish the means of his conveyance to America. Difficulties rise up 
before him only to be dispersed, and obstacles thicken only to be sur 
mounted. The day after the signature of the contract, Mr. Deane s 
agency was superseded by the arrival of Doctor Benjamin Franklin and 
Arthur Lee as his colleagues in commission ; nor did they think them 
selves authorized to confirm his engagements. Lafayette is not to be 
discouraged. The Commissioners extenuate nothing of the unpromising 
condition of their cause. Mr. Deane avows his inability to furnish him 
with a passage to the United States. " The more desperate the cause," 
says Lafayette, "the greater need has it of my services; and, if Mr. 
" Deane has no vessel for my passage, I shall purchase one myself, and 
"will traverse the Ocean with a selected company of my own." 

Other impediments arise. His design becomes known to the British 
Ambassador at the Court of Versailles, who remonstrates to the French 
Government against it. At his instance, orders are issued for the deten 
tion of the vessel purchased by the Marquis, and fitted out at Bordeaux, 
and for the arrest of his person. To elude the first of these orders, the 
vessel is removed from Bordeaux to the neighboring port of Passage, 
within the dominion of Spain. The order for his own arrest is exe 
cuted ; but, by stratagem and disguise, he escapes from the custody of 
those who have him in charge, and, before a second order can reach 
hii. i, he is safe on the ocean wave, bound to the land of Independence 
and of Freedom. 


The war of American Independence is closed. The people of the 
North American Confederation are in union, sovereign and independent. 
Lafayette, at twenty-five years of age, has lived the life of a patriarch, 
and illustrated the career of a hero. Had his days upon earth been then 
numbered, and had he then slept with his fathers, illustrious as for cen 
turies their names had been, his name, to the end of time, would 
have transcended them all. Fortunate youth ! fortunate beyond 
even the measure of his companions in arms with whom he 
had achieved the glorious consummation of American Independence. 
His fame was all his own ; not cheaply earned ; not ignobly won, 
His fellow-soldiers had been the champions and defenders of their 
country. They reaped for themselves, for their wives, their children, 
their posterity to the latest time, the rewards of their dangers and 
their toils. Lafayette had watched, and labored, arid fought, and bled, 
not for himself, not for his family, not, in the first instance, even for 
his country. In the legendary tales of chivalry we read of tourna 
ments at which a foreign and unknown knight suddenly presents 
himself, armed in complete steel, and, with the vizor down, enters the 
ring to contend with the assembled flower of knighthood for the prize 
of honor, to be awarded by the hand of beauty ; bears it in triumph 
away, and disappears from the astonished multitude of competitors 
and spectators of the feats of arms. But where, in the rolls of history, 
where, in the fictions of romance, where, but in the life of Lafayette, 
has been seen the noble stranger, flying, with the tribute of his name, 
his rank, his influence, his ease, his domestic bliss, his treasure, his 
blood, to the relief of a suffering and distant land, in the hour of her 
deepest calamity baring his bosom to her foes; and not at the trans 
ient pageantry of a tournament, but for a succession of five years 
sharing all the vicissitudes of her fortunes; always eager to appear at 
the post of danger tempering the glow of youthful ardor with the 
cold caution of a veteran commander ; bold and daring in action; 
prompt in execution; rapid in pursuit; fertile in expedients; unattain 
able in retreat; often exposed, but never surprised, never disconcerted; 
eluding his enemy when within his fancied grasp; bearing upon him 
with irresistible sway when of force to cope with him in the conflict of 
arms ? And what is this but the diary of Lafayette, from the day of 
his rallying the scattered fugitives of the Brandywine, insensible 
of the blood flowing from his wound, to the storming of the redoubt 
at Yorktown ? 

Henceforth, as a public man, Lafayette is to be considered as a 
Frenchman, always active and ardent to serve the United States, but 
no longer in their service as an officer. So transcendent had been 
his merits in the common cause, that, to reward them, the rule of 
progressive advancement in the armies of France was set aside for 
him. He received from the minister of war a notification that from 
the day of his retirement from the service of the United States as a 


major general, at the close of the war, he should hold the same rank 
in the armies of France, to date from the day of the capitulation of 
Lord Cornwallis. 

Henceforth he is a Frenchman, destined to perform in the history 
of his country a part, as peculiarly his own, and not less glorious than 
that which he had performed in the war of independence. A short 
period of profound peace followed the great triumph of freedom. The 
desire of Lafayette once more to see the land of his adoption and the 
associates of his glory, the fellow-soldiers who had become to him as 
brothers, and the friend and patron of his youth, who had become to 
him as a father; sympathizing with their desire once more to see him 
to see in their prosperity him who had first come to them in their 
affliction, induced him, in the year 1784, to pay a visit to the United 

On the 4th of August, of that year, he landed at New York, and, in 
the space of five months from that time, visited his venerable friend at 
Mount Vernon, where he was then living in retirement, and traversed 
ten States of the Union, receiving every where, from their legislative 
assemblies, from the municipal bodies of the cities and towns through 
which he passed, from the officers of the army, his late associates, now 
restored to the virtues and occupations of private life, and even from 
the recent emigrants from Ireland, who had come to adopt for their 
country the self-emancipated land, addresses of gratulation and of joy, 
the effusions of hearts grateful in the enjoyment of the blessings for 
the possessio-n of which they had been so largely indebted to his ex 
ertions and, finally, from the United States of America in Congress 
assembled at Trenton. 

On the gth of December it was resolved by that body that a com 
mittee, to consist of one member from each State, should be appointed 
to receive, and in the name of Congress take leave of the marquis. That 
they should be instructed to assure him that Congress continued to en 
tertain the same high sense of his abilities and zeal to promote the wel 
fare of America, both here and in Europe, which they had frequently 
expressed and manifested on former occasions, and which the recent 
marks of his attention to their commercial and other interests had 
perfectly confirmed. "That, as his uniform and unceasing attach 
ment to this country has resembled that of a patriotic citizen, the 
United States regard him with particular affection, and will not cease 
to feel an interest in whatever may concern his honor and prosperity, 
and that their best and kindest wishes will always attend him." 

And it was further resolved, that a letter be written to his Most 
Christian Majesty, to be signed by his Excellency the President of 
Congress, expressive of the high sense which the United States in 
Congress assembled entertain of the zeal, talents, and meritorious 
services of the Marquis de Lafayette, and recommending him to the 
favor and patronage of his Majesty. 


The first of these resolutions was, on the next day, carried into ex 
ecution. At a solemn interview with the Committee of Congress, 
received in their hall, and addressed by the chairman of their com 
mittee, John Jay, the purport of these resolutions was communicated 
to him. He replied in terms of fervent sensibility for the kindness 
manifested personally to himself; and, with allusions to the situation, 
the p:ospects, and the duties of the people of this country, he pointed 
out the great interests which he believed it indispensable to their wel 
fare, that they should cultivate and cherish. In the following mem 
orable sentences the ultimate objects of his solicitude are disclosed in 
a tone deeply solemn and impressive : 

" May this immense temple of freedom," said he, "ever stand, a 
lesson to oppressors, an example to the oppressed, a sanctuary for 
the rights of mankind ! and may these happy United States attain that 
complete splendor and prosperity which will illustrate the blessings of 
their government, and for ages to come rejoice the departed souls of 
its founders." 

Fellow-citizens ! Ages have passed away since these words were 
spoken ; but ages are the years of the existence of nations. The found 
ers of this immense temple of freedom have all departed, save here 
and there a solitary exception, even while I speak, at the point of tak 
ing wing. The prayer of Lafayette is not yet consummated. Ages 
upon ages are still to pass away before it can have its full accomplish 
ment; and, for its ful 1 accomplishment, his spirit, hovering over our 
heads, in more than echoes talks around these walls. It repeats the 
prayer which from his lips fifty years ago was at once a parting bless 
ing and a prophecy; for, were it possible for the whole human race, 
now breathing the breath of life, to be assembled within this hall, your 
orator would, in your name and in that of your constituents, appeal to 
them to testify for your fathers of the last generation, that, so far as 
has depended upon them, the blessing of Lafayette has been prophecy. 
Yes this immense temple of freedom still stands, a lesson to op 
pressors, an example to the oppressed, and a sanctuary for the rights 
of mankind. Yes ! with the smiles of a benignant Providence, the 
splendor and prosperity of these happy United States have illustrated 
the blessings of their government, and, we may humbly hope, have 
rejoiced the departed souls of its founders. For the past your fathers 
and you have been responsible. The charge of the future devolves 
upon you and upon your children. The vestal fire of freedom is in your 
custody. May the souls of its departed founders never be called to 
witness its extinction by neglect, nor a soil upon the purity of its 
keepers ! 

With this valedictory, Lafayette took, as he and those who heard 
him then believed, a final leave of the people of the United States, 
He returned to France and arrived at Paris on the 25111,01 January, 


Such, legislators of the North American Confederate Union, was 
the life of Gilbert Motier de Lafayette, and the record of his life is 
the delineation of his character. Consider him as one human being 
of one thousand millions, his contemporaries on the surface of the 
terraqueous globe. Among that thousand millions seek for an object 
of comparison with him; assume for the standard of comparison all 
the virtues which exalt the character of man above that of the brute 
creation; take the ideal man, little lower than the angels; mark the 
qualities of mind and heart which entitle him to his station of . pre 
eminence in the scale of created beings, and inquire who, that lived 
in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of the Christian era, com 
bined in himself so many of those qualities, so little alloyed with 
those which belong to that earthly vesture of decay in which the im 
mortal spirit is enclosed, as Lafayette. 

Pronounce him one of the first men of his age, and you have yet 
not done him justice. Try him by that test to which he sought in 
vain to stimulate the vulgar and selfish spirit of Napoleon; class him 
among the men who, to compare and seat themselves, must take in the 
compass of all ages; turn back your eyes upon the records of time: 
summon from the creation of the world to this day the mighty dead 
of every age and every clime and where, among the race of merely 
mortal men, shall one be found, who, as the benefactor of his kind, 
shall claim to take precedence of Lafayette ? 

There have doubtless been, in all ages, men, whose discoveries or 
inventions, in the world of matter or of mind, have opened new 
avenues to the dominion of man over the material creation; have in 
creased his means or his faculties of enjoyment; have raised him in 
nearer approximation to that higher and happier condition, the object 
of his hopes and aspirations in his present state of existence. 

Lafayette discovered no new principle of politics or of morals. He 
invented nothing in science. He disclosed no new phenomenon in 
the laws of nature. Born and educated in the highest order of feudal 
nobility, under the most absolute monarchy of Europe, in possession 
of an affluent fortune, and master of himself and of all his capabili 
ties, at the moment of attaining manhood, the principle of republicaa 
justice and of social equality took possession of his heart and mind, 
as if by inspiration from above. He devoted himself, his life, his 
fortune, his hereditary honors, his towering ambition, his splendid 
hopes, all to the cause of liberty. He came to another hemisphere 
to defend her. He became one of the most effective champions of 
our independence; but, that once achieved, he returned to his own 
country, and thenceforward took no part in the controversies which 
have divided us. In the events of our revolution, and in the forms 
of policy which we have adopted for the establishment and perpetua 
tion of our freedom, Lafayette found the most perfect form of govern 
ment. He wished to add nothing to it. He would gladly have ab- 


stracted nothing from it. Instead of the imaginary Republic ci 
Plato, or the Utopia of Sir Thomas More, he took a practical existing 
model, in actual operation here, and never attempted or wished more 
than to apply it faithfully to his own country. 

It was not given to Moses to enter the promised land; but he saw 
it from the summil of Pisgah. It was not given to Lafayette to wit 
ness the consummation of his wishes in the establishment of a repub 
lic, and the extinction of all hereditary rule in France. His principles 
were in advance of the age and hemisphere in which he lived. A Bour 
bon still reigns on the throne of France, and it is not for us to scruti 
nize the title by which he reigns. The principles of elective and hered 
itary power, blended in reluctant union in his person, like the red and 
white roses of York and Lancaster, may postpone to aftertime the last 
conflict to which they must ultimately come. The life of the patriarch 
was not long enough for the development of his whole political sys 
tem. Its final accomplishment is in the womb of time. 

The anticipation of this event is the more certain, from the consid 
eration that all the principles for which Lafayette contended were 
practical. He never indulged himself in wild and fanciful specula 
tions. The principle of hereditary power was, in his opinion, the bane 
of all republican liberty in Europe. Unable to extinguish it in the 
Revolution of 1830, so far as concerned the chief magistracy of the 
nation, Lafayette had the satisfaction of seeing it abolished with ref 
erence to the peerage. An hereditary crown, stript of the support 
which it may derive from an hereditary peerage, however compatible 
with Asiatic despotism, is an anomaty in the history of the Christian 
world, and in the theory of free government. There is no argument 
producible against the existence of an hereditary peerage, but applies 
with aggravated weight against the transmission, from sire to son, of 
an hereditary crown. The prejudices and passions of the people of 
France rejected the principle of inherited power, in every station of 
public trust, excepting the first and highest of them all; but there they 
clung to it, as did the Israelites of old to the savory deities of Egypt. 

This is not the time or the place for a disquisition upon the compar 
ative merits, as a system of government, of a republic, and a mon 
archy surrounded by republican institutions. Upon this subject there 
is among us no diversity of opinion; and if it should take the people 
of France another half century of internal and external war, of daz 
zling and delusive glories; of unparalleled triumphs, humiliating re 
verses, and bitter disappointments, to settle it to their satisfaction, the 
ultimate result can only bring them to the point where we have stood 
from the day of the Declaration of Independence to the point where 
Lafayette would have brought them, and to which he looked as a con 
summation devoutly to be wished. 

Then, too, and then only, will be the time when the character of 
Lafayette will be appreciated at its true value throughout the civilized 


world. When the principle of hereditary dominion shall be extin 
guished in all the institutions of France; when government shall no 
longer be considered as property transmissible from sire to son, but 
as a trust committed for a limited time, and then to return to the peo 
ple whence it came; as a burdensome duty to be discharged, and not 
as a reward to be abused; when a claim, any claim, to political power 
by inheritance shall, in the estimation of the whole French people, be 
held as it now is by the whole people of the North American Union 
then will be the time for contemplating the character of Lafayette, not 
merely in the events of his life, but, in the full development of his 
intellectual conceptions, of his fervent aspirations, of the labors and 
perils and sacrifices of his long and eventful career upon earth; and 
thenceforward, till the hour when the trump of the Archangel shall 
sound to announce that Time shall be no more, the name of Lafayette 
shall stand enrolled upon the annals of our race, high on the list of 
the pure and disinterested benefactors of mankind. 


New York, April 30, 1839. 



Would it be an unlicensed trespass of the imagination to conceive, 
that on the night preceding the day of which you now commemorate 
the fiftieth anniversary on ihe night preceding that thirtieth of April, 
one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, when from the balcony 
of your city-hall, the Chancellor of the State of New York adminis 
tered to George Washington the solemn oath, faithfully to execute the 
office of President of the United States, and to the best of his ability, to 
preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States 
that in the visions of the night, the guardian angel of the Father of 
our country had appeared before him, in the venerated form of his 
mother, and, to cheer and encourage him in the performance of the 
momentous and solemn duties that he was about to assume, had de 
livered to him a suit of celestial armor a helmet, consisting of the 
principles of piety, of justice, of honor, of benevolence, with which 
from his earliest infancy he had hitherto walked through life, in the 
presence of all his brethen a spear, studded with the self-evident 
truths of the Declaration of Independence a sword, the same with 
which he had led the armies of his country through the war of free 
dom, to the summit of the triumphal arch of independence a corslet 
and cuishes of long experience and habitual intercourse in peace and 
A. P. n. 


war with the world of mankind, his contemporaries of the human race, 
in all their stages of civilization and last of all, the Constitution of 
the United States, a shield, embossed by heavenly hands, with the fu 
ture history of his country. 

Yes, gentlemen ! on that shield, the Constitution of the United 
States was sculptured (by forms unseen, and in characters then invis 
ible to mortal eye), the predestined and prophetic history of the one 
confederated people of the North American Union. 

They had been the settlers of thirteen separate and distinct English 
colonies, along the margin of the shore of the North American con 
tinent: contiguously situated, but chartered by adventurers of char 
acters variously diversified, including sectarians, religious and politi 
cal, of all the classes which for the two preceding centuries had 
agitated and divided the people of the British islands and with them 
were intermingled the descendants of Hollanders, Swedes, Germans, 
and French fugitives from the persecution of the revoker of the Edict 
of Nantes. 

In the bosoms of this people, thus heterogeneously composed, there 
was burning, kindled at different furnaces, but all furnaces of afflic 
tion, one clear, steady flame of liberty. Bold and daring enterprise, 
stubborn endurance of privation, unflinching intrepidity in facing 
danger, and inflexible adherence to conscientious principle, had steeled 
to energetic and unyielding hardihood the characters of the primitive 
settlers of all these colonies. Since that time two or three generations 
of men had passed away but they had increased and multiplied with 
unexampled rapidity; and the land itself had been the recent theatre 
of a ferocious and bloody seven years war between the two most pow 
erful and most civilized nations of Europe, contending for the posses 
sion of this continent. 

Of that strife the victorious combatant had been Britain. She had 
conquered the provinces of France. She had expelled her rival totally 
from the continent, over which, bounding herself by the Mississippi. 
she was thenceforth to hold divided empire only with Spain. She had 
acquired undisputed control over the Indian tribes, still tenanting the 
forests unexplored by the European man. She had established an 
uncontested monopoly of the commerce of all her colonies. But for 
getting all the warnings of preceding ages forgetting the lessons 
written in the blood of her own children, through centuries of de 
parted time, she undertook to tax the people of the colonies without 
their consent. 

Resistance, instantaneous, unconcerted, sympathetic, inflexible re 
sistance, like an electric shock startled and roused the people of all the 
English colonies on this continent. 

This was the first signal of the North American Union. The strug 
gle was for chartered rights for English liberties for the cause of 
Algernon Sydney and John Hampden for trial by jury the Habeas 
Corpus and Magna Charta. 


But the English lawyers had decided that Parliament was omnipo 
tent and Parliament in their omnipotence, instead of trial by jury 
and the Habeas Corpus, enacted admiralty courts in England to try 
Americans for offences charged against them as committed in Ameri 
ca instead of the privileges of Magna Charta, nullified the charter 
itself of Massachusetts Bay; shut up the port of Boston; sent armies 
and navies to keep the peace, and teach the colonies that John Hamp- 
den was a rebel, and -Algernon Sidney a traitor. 

English liberties had failed them. From the omnipotence of Par 
liament the colonists appealed to the rights of man and the omnipo 
tence of the God of battles. Union ! Union ! was the instinctive and 
simultaneous cry throughout the land. Their Congress, assembled at 
Philadelphia, once twice had petitioned the king; had remonstrated 
to Parliament; had addressed the people of Britain, for the rights of 
Englishmen in vain. Fleets and armies, the blood of Lexington, 
and the fires of Charlestown and Falmouth, had been the answer to 
petition, remonstrance, and address. 

Independence was declared. The colonies were transformed into 
States. Their inhabitants were proclaimed to be one people, renounc 
ing all allegiance to the British crown; all co-patriotism with the Brit 
ish nation; all claims to chartered rights as Englishmen. Thenceforth 
their charter was the Declaration of Independence. Their rights, the 
natural rights of mankind. Their government, such as should be in 
stituted by themselves, under the solemn mutual pledges of per 
petual union, founded on the self-evident truths proclaimed in the 

The Declaration of Independence was issued, in the excruciating 
agonies of a civil war, and by that war independence was to be main 
tained Six long years it raged with unabated fury, and the Union 
was yet no more than a mutual pledge of faith, and a mutual partici 
pation of common sufferings and common dangers. 

The omnipotence of the British Parliament was vanquished. The 
independence of the United States of America was not granted, but 
recognized. The nation had "assumed among the powers of the 
earth, the separate and equal station, to which the laws of nature, and 
of nature s God, entitled it" but the one, united people, had yet no 

In the enthusiasm of their first spontaneous, unstipulated, unpre 
meditated union, they had flattered themselves that no general gov 
ernment would be required. As separate states they were all agreed 
that they should constitute and govern themselves. The revolution 
under which they were gasping for life, the war which was carrying 
desolation into all their dwellings, and mourning into every family, 
had been kindled by the abuse of power the power of government. 
An invincible repugnance to the delegation of power, had thus been 
generated, by the very course of events which had rendered it neces 
sary; and the more indispensable it became, the more awakened was 


the jealousy and the more intense was the distrust by which it was to 
be circumscribed. 

They relaxed their union into a league of friendship between sover 
eign and independent states. They constituted a Congress, with 
powers co-extensive with the nation, but so hedged and hemmed in 
with restrictions, that the limitation seemed to be the general rule, and 
the grant the occasional exception. The articles of confederation, 
subjected to philosophical analysis, seem to be^ little more than an 
enumeration of the functions of a national government which the 
Congress constituted by the instrument was not authorized to perform. 
There was avowedly no executive power. 

The nation fell into an atrophy. The Union languished to the point 
of death. A torpid numbness seized upon all its faculties. A chilling 
cold indifference crept from its extremities to the centre. The system 
was about to dissolve in its own imbecility impotence in negotiation 
abroad domestic insurrection at home, were on the point of bearing 
to a dishonourable grave the proclamation of a government founded 
on the rights of man, when a convention of delegates from eleven of 
the thirteen states, with George Washington at their head, sent forth 
to the people, an act to be made their own, speaking in their name 
and in the first person, thus : " We the people of the United States, 
in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domes 
tic tranquillity, provide for the common defence